Ancient Jewish History

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Ancient Jewish History Table of Contents

Ancient Jewish History

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The Administration of Judaea After the Exile The Age of the Patriarchs Ancient Gaza Archaeology The Ark of the Covenant The Babylonians ❍ The Babylonian Jewish Community Bet Din The Bible On Jewish Links To The Holy Land Biblical Figures Biblical Times The Birth and Evolution of Judaism Civilizations and Rulers of the Ancient Middle East The Dead Sea Scrolls ❍ The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after their Discovery Decapolis The Diaspora Egypt and the Wanderings ❍ Pharaoh Exile Gadara The Great Assembly Hebron Hillel and Shammai

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Idumea/Edom Jerusalem Jewish High Priests, from Herod to the Destruction of the Temple Jews of the Middle East Joseph’s Tomb Judges of Israel The Land of the Hebrews The Maccabees ❍ The Hasmonean Dynasty Machaerus Maps The Monarchy ❍ The Two Kingdoms ■ The Kings of Israel ■ The Kings of Judah The Name “Palestine” The Occupation of Canaan Perea/Gilead Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes ❍ The Essenes The Philistines The Return to Zion The Sanhedrin The Seven Species The Temple Timeline for the History of Judaism ❍ Timeline for the History of Jerusalem The Twelve Tribes of Israel Tyre Via Maris Virtual Jewish History Tour Weights, Measures, and Coins The Western Wall Who Were the Hebrews?

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The Administration of Judaea

The Administration of Judaea

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Herod the Great, 37-4 BC Archelaus, 4 BC-AD 6 Roman Prefects, AD 6-41 ❍ Coponius, 6-9 ❍ Marcus Ambibulus, 9-12 ❍ Annius Rufus, 12-15 ❍ Valerius Gratus, 15-26 ❍ Pontius Pilate, 26-36 ❍ Marcellus, 36/37 ❍ Marullus, 37-41 Agrippa I, 41-44 Roman Procurators, 44-66 ❍ Cuspius Fadus, 44-46? ❍ Tiberius Iulius Alexander, 46?-48 ❍ Ventidius Cumanus, 48-52 ❍ Antonius Felix, 52-60? ❍ Porcius Festus, 60-62? ❍ Albinus, 62-64 ❍ Gessius Florus, 64-66 Roman Legates, 66-135 ❍ Sextus Vettulenus Cerialis, 70 ❍ Sextus Lucilius Bassus ❍ Lucius Flavius Silva, 73/4-81 ❍ Cnaeus Pompeius Longinus, 86 ❍ Sextus Hermetidius Campanus, 93 ❍ Atticus, c100 ❍ Caius Iulius Quadratus Bassus, 102/3-104/5 ❍ Quintus Roscius Coelius Pompeius Falco,

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The Administration of Judaea

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105-7 ?Tiberianus, 114 Lusius Quietus, 117 Quintus Tineius Rufus, 132 Caius Quinctius Certus Publius Marcellus Sextus Iulius Severus, 135

Source: Hugh Elton

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After the Exile

After the Exile (538-332 BC)

Cyrus When Cyrus the Persian conquered Mesopotamia and the whole of the Middle East, he did so for religious reasons. Unlike any conqueror before him, Cyrus set out to conquer the entire world. Before Cyrus and the Persians, conquest was largely a strategic affair; you guaranteed your territorial safety by conquering potential enemies. But Cyrus wanted the whole world and he wanted it for religious reasons. Barely a century before, the Persians were a rag-tag group of tribes living north of Mesopotamia. They were Indo-European—they spoke a language from the Indo-European family, which includes Greek, German, and English. To the Mesopotamians, they were little better than animals and so went largely ignored. But in the middle of the seventh century BC, a prophet, Zarathustra, appeared among them and preached a new religion. This religion would become Zoroastrianism (in Greek, Zarathustra is called "Zoroaster"). The Zoroastrians believed that the universe was dualistic, that it was made up of two distinct parts. One was good and light and the other evil and dark. Cosmic history was simply the epic battle between these two divine forces; at the end of time, a climactic battle would decide once and for all which of the two would dominate the universe. Human beings, in everything they do, participated in this struggle; all the gods and all the religions were part of this epic, almost eternal battle. Cyrus believed that the final battle was approaching, and that Persia would bring about the triumph of good. To this end, he sought to conquer all peoples and create the stage for the final triumph of good. He was the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Exile1.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:30:09

After the Exile

greatest conqueror that had ever been seen; at his death, his empire was exponentially larger than any other empire that had ever existed. His son, Cambyses, conquered Egypt; the Persians, it seemed at the time, were on their way to world domination. Although Zoroastrianism involved two gods—one good and one evil—all other gods were ranged on one side or the other of this equation. Cyrus believed Yahweh was one of the good gods, and he claimed that Yahweh visited him one night. In that vision, Yahweh commanded him to reestablish Yahweh worship in Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple. Cyrus ordered the temple rebuilt. But what good is a temple without worshippers? To this end, he ordered that the Jews in Babylon return to Jerusalem. In fact, Cyrus sent many people back to the native lands in order to worship the local gods there, so the situation with the Jews was not unique. Not all of the Jews went home; a large portion stayed in Babylon and some had converted to Babylonian religions.

The Rebuilding of the Temple The salient feature to keep in mind, however, is that Cyrus sent the Jews home for religious purposes only. Judah was re-established only so Yahweh could be worshipped, and the Jews were sent to Judah for the express purpose of worshiping Yahweh. Before the Exile, Judah and Israel were merely kingdoms; now Judah was a theological state . The shining symbol of this new state dedicated to Yahweh was the temple of Solomon, which had been burned to the ground by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. Under the direction of Zerubabbel and later Ezra, the temple is rebuilt and the walls of the city rebuilt by Nehemiah. The rebuilding of the temple was difficult; very few Jews actually returned home, so the effort was monumental. During the Exile, the Jews set about "purifying" their religion; they attempted to return their laws and cultic practices to their Mosaic originals. This new-found concern with cultic purity and the Mosaic laws, combined with the re-establishment of Judah as a theological state, produced a different society. Hebrew society was almost solely concerned with religious matters in the Persian period; foreign religions were not tolerated as they had been before. Non-Jews were persecuted, and foreign religious expelled. During the Persian period and later, Judah was the state where Yahweh and only Yahweh was worshipped. Both the Persians and the Greeks respected this exclusivity, but the Romans would greatly

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After the Exile

offend the Jews when they introduced foreign gods. The Jews had learned many things from the Persians and actively included Persian elements in their religion. It's important to note that this occurred side by side with the effort to purify the religion! Most of these elements were popular elements rather than official beliefs; they would persist only in Christianity which arose among the people rather than the educated and priestly classes. Among these were a.) adoption of a dualistic universe. In early Hebrew belief, the universe was dominated only by Yahweh. All history was the result of two forces: Yahweh and human will. Perhaps in an effort to make sense of the Exile, the Hebrews gradually adopted the Persian idea that the universe is composed of two diametrically opposed forces, one good, and the other evil. So, after the Babylonian exile, the Hebrews, in their popular religion, talk about an evil force opposed to Yahweh, which becomes the "devil" in Christianity. (Satan in the Hebrew story, Job , is actually a member of Yahweh's circle; he seems to be some kind of itinerant prosecuting attorney.) b.) belief in a dualistic afterlife. Before the Exile, the Hebrews believed that the soul after death went to a house of dust which they called "Sheol," to abide for a brief time before fading completely from existence. This belief was identical to all other Semitic versions of the afterlife. Therefore, Hebraism was primarily a this-world religion before the Exile. The Persians, though, believed that the souls of the good would reunite with the principle of good in eternal bliss; the souls of the evil would reunite with the principle evil to suffer until the final defeat of evil. In popular religion, the Hebrews adopted this view of the afterlife. This view of the afterlife powerfully explains suffering in this life, such as the Exile; cosmic justice is apparent only at one's death rather than during one's life. Again, it is only in the popular Jewish religions, such as the Essenes and the Christians, where this view becomes orthodox. For another two hundred years, Persia dominated all of the Middle East and Egypt, and came within a hair's breadth of conquering Greece. During http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Exile1.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:30:09

After the Exile

all this time Palestine was a tribute state of Persia. However, in the late fourth century BC, another man got the idea of conquering the world and set about doing it with ruthless efficiency. He was a Greek: Alexander of Macedon. When he conquered Persia in 332 BC, Palestine became a Greek state, and the children of Yavan would mix once again with the children of Shem.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Age of the Patriarchs

The Age of the Patriarchs (~1950-1500 BC)

For the most part, the people surrounding the Hebrews took little interest in them for much of Hebrew history. The Hebrews themselves don't actually appear in history until the reign of Marniptah, king of Egypt from about 1224-1211 BC. The son of Raamses I (1290-1224 BC), generally taken to be the king of Egypt at the time of the Hebrew exodus, Marniptah undertakes a military campaign in Asia in 1220 BC. In an account of the campaign inscribed in granite, a list of all the conquered peoples includes the Israelites who are mentioned as "now living in Canaan." Before this point, the only history of the Hebrews we have are written by the Hebrews themselves, in Genesis 12-50. In the Hebrew account of their own history, they trace their origins back to a single individual, Abraham, who comes originally from Mesopotamia. The histories of the pre-Egyptian Hebrews is generally called the age of the patriarchs (patriarch means "father-ruler"); while it is virtually impossible to date this age since a.) the Hebrew history of the age is written down after more than a thousand years had passed and b.) no-one else was interested in the history, scholars place this age roughly between 1950 and 1500 BC. Several aspects emerge from this history. First, the history of the patriarchs indicates that the special election of the Hebrews, made manifest in the delivery from Egypt, begins before the Egyptian sojourn and delivery. In Hebrew history, Abraham and his descendants are selected by Yahweh to be his chosen people over all other peoples. Abraham, who is a Semite living in Haran, a city in northern Mesopotamia, and whose father, Terah, comes from the city Ur in southern Mesopotamia, is visited suddenly by http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebpat.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:30:10

The Age of the Patriarchs

Yahweh and told to move his family. If Abraham's migration can be dated to around 1950 BC, this means that his migration from Mesopotamia would make sense, since the region was collapsing into chaos. Migrating to the west, Abraham stops at Shechem and is again visited by Yahweh, who then tells him that all this land will be given to him and his descendants. So the election of the Hebrews involves a certain unexplained quality (why pick Abraham) that is partially answered by Abraham's unswerving obedience when Yahweh asks him to sacrifice his son. But more importantly, the foundation of the Hebrew view of history is contained in these patriarchal stories. God ("Elohim" in Hebrew) has a special purpose in history and has chosen the Hebrews and the Hebrews alone to fulfill this purpose. In order to fulfill this purpose, God has entered into a covenantal relationship with the Hebrews and promises to protect them as a lord protects his servants. As servants, then, the principle duty that Abraham and his descendants owe to god is obedience. The second aspect that emerges is that the early Hebrews are nomads, wandering tribal groups who are organized along classic tribal logic. Society is principally organized around kinship with a rigid kinship hierarchy. The relationship with god is also a kinship relationship: anybody outside the kinship structure (anybody who isn't a descendant of Abraham) is not included in the special relationship with God. At the top of the kinship hierarchy is a kind of tribal leader; we use the Greek word, "patriarch," which means "father-ruler." Well into the monarchical period and beyond, the Hebrews seem to dynamically remember their tribal character, for Genesis associates civilization with Cain and his descendants (meaning that civilization is not a good thing) and the history of the monarchy is clearly written from an anti-monarchical stance, since it is made clear that desiring a king is disobedience to God. The third aspect that emerges is that these tribal groups of early Hebrews wandered far and wide, that is, that they did not occupy the lands around Palestine; this occupation would come considerably later. They seem to freely move from Palestine, across the deserts, and as far as Egypt. At several points in the narrative, Hebrew tribes move to Egypt in order to find a better life. It would not be unfair to imagine that the Hebrews were among the infinite variety of foreigners who overwhelmed Egypt at the end of the Middle Kingdom. Beyond this it is difficult to come to certain conclusions. As far as the religion of the early Hebrews are concerned, it is generally believed that it had nothing to do with the Yahweh cult which is introduced by Moses, for http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebpat.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:30:10

The Age of the Patriarchs

Exodus asserts that Moses is the first to hear the name of god, Yahweh. The Hebrew accounts of the patriarchs generally use the term "Elohim" (God), "El Shaddai" (God Almighty), and other variants. Several religious practices described in Genesis seem to indicate a belief in animistic forces and even, possibly, polytheism, but these passages are highly controversial. All we know for certain is that by the end of the patriarchal age, several tribes identified with one another as having a common ancestor and a common identity. We don't even know what they called themselves; we haven't successfully figured out where the term "Hebrew" comes from, although the best guess is that it comes from the Egyptian word, "apiru," or "foreigner." Several members of these tribes, whatever they called themselves, at some point migrated to Egypt, and Egypt would be the crucible in which would form the people and nation of Israel.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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Ancient Gaza

Ancient Gaza

Gaza was an ancient gateway to Palestine on the road to Egypt. Gaza was one of five Philistine cities along the southern coast that successfully resisted Israelite conquest until Judah Maccabee's brother Jonathan captured it [ca 150 BCE]. It was virtually destroyed by Alexander Jannai for revolting [ca 96 BCE]. But it was rebuilt as a Roman city by Gabinius. In Acts [8:26] it is the setting for Philip's conversion of an Ethiopian eunuch. But it was more than 300 years before it became a center for Christians.

Source: Into His Own

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Archaeology Table of Contents

Archaeology

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Akko: The Maritime Capital of the Crusader Kingdom Ancient Arad Apollonia-Arsuf Archaeological Excavations in Israel 2004 [Israeli Foreign Ministry Site] Archaeological Sites in Israel — An Introduction Archeology - 21st Century Style Archaeology of Jerusalem Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan Be'er Shema - The Church of St. Stephen Be’er Sheva: Prehistoric Dwelling Sites Beersheba — the Southern Border of the Kingdom of Judah Beit Alpha Beit Govrin - A Roman Amphitheater Beit She'an Beit Shemesh: Biblical City on the Border Between Judah and Philistia Belvoir: A Crusader Fortress Overlooking the Jordan Valley Bet She'arim: The Jewish Necropolis of the Roman Period Bethsaida Byzantine Churches in the Negev Caesarea Capernaum The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man

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Cave of the Treasure Church of John the Baptist Discovered The Church of the House of Peter The Church of the Seat of Mary (Kathisma) Dan: The Biblical City The Dead Sea Scrolls ❍ The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after their Discovery The Eilat Region Ein Gedi: An Ancient Oasis Settlement Ein Hatzeva: An Israelite Fortress on the Border with Edom Ekron: A Philistine City Gamla: Jewish City on the Golan Gezer Golan - A Unique Chalcolithic Culture The Golan: Rogem Hiri The Greek Orthodox Church of the Seven Apostles Haifa University Archeologist Uncovers World’s Oldest Bedding Hamat Gader: Baths of Medicinal Hot Springs Hatzor Herodian: King Herod's Palace - Fortress Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod Katzrin Kiryat Sefer Kursi: Christian Monastery on the Shore of the Sea of Galilee Lachish: Royal City of the Kingdom of Judah Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City The Monastery of Martyrius Nahal Refaiim: Caananite Bronze Age Villages near Jerusalem Nebi Samwil The Nimrod Fortress: Muslim Stronghold in the Golan Qumran The Ram of Atlit Ramat Rahel Ramla: Arab Capital of the Province of Palestine Recent Archeological Discoveries (1999) Recent Archeological Discoveries (2003) The Rockefeller Museum

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Rogem Hiri: An Ancient Mysterious Construction The Roman Boat from the Sea of Galilee Sha'ar Hagolan: A Neolithic Village Shechem (Nablus) The Synagogue at Capernaum Tabgha: Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes Tel Dor Tell en-Nabeh Tel Qasile Tel Shilo Tiberias: The Anchor Church Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines Top Archaeological Discoveries in Israel Underwater Exploration Along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast Yodefat Zippori ❍ The Glass from Sepphoris ❍ The Zippori Reservoir

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The Lost Ark of the Covenant

The Lost Ark of the Covenant

By David Shyovitz

Building the Ark The Role of the Ark History of the Ark The Ark's Whereabouts The Role of the Ark Today

Judaism, as a general rule, rejects physical manifestations of spirituality, preferring instead to focus on actions and beliefs. Indeed, the story of Judaism begins with Abraham, the original iconoclast, who, according to ancient sources, shattered the idols that were the conventional method of religious observance at the time. Worship of graven images is harshly http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ark.html (1 of 8)2/11/2004 13:30:19

The Lost Ark of the Covenant

condemned throughout the Torah, and perhaps the greatest sin the Israelites collectively committed was the construction of the Golden Calf (in Ex. 32), intended to serve as a physical intermediary between them and God. Today, Jews do not venerate any holy relics or man-made symbols. But early in the history of the Jewish people, there was one exception to this rule, one man-made object that was considered intrinsically holy. The Ark of the Covenant, constructed during the Israelites' wanderings in the desert and used until the destruction of the First Temple, was the most important symbol of the Jewish faith, and served as the only physical manifestation of God on earth. The legends associated with this object, and the harsh penalties ascribed for anyone who misuses it, confirm the Ark's centrality to the Jewish faith of that period; the fact that Jews and non-Jews alike continue to study and imitate it confirms its centrality even today.

Building the Ark The construction of the Ark is commanded by God to Moses while the Jews were still camped at Sinai (Ex. 25:10-22; 37:1-9). The Ark was a box with the dimensions of two-and-a-half cubits in length, by one-and-a-half cubits in heights, by one-and-a-half cubits in width (a cubit is about 18 inches). It was constructed of acacia wood, and was plated with pure gold, inside and out. On the bottom of the box, four gold rings were attached, through which two poles, also made of acacia and coated in gold, were put. The family of Kehath, of the tribe of Levi, would carry the ark on their shoulders using these poles. Covering the box was the kapporet, a pure One artist's rendition of gold covering that was two-and-a-half by onewhat the Ark looked like. and-a-half cubits. Attached to the kapporet were two sculpted Cherubs, also made of pure gold. The two Cherubs faced one another, and their wings, which wrapped around their bodies, touched between them. The contents of the Ark has been debated through the centuries. The general consensus is that the first tablets containing the Ten Commandments, which were broken by Moses, and the second tablets, which remained intact, were contained in http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ark.html (2 of 8)2/11/2004 13:30:19

The Lost Ark of the Covenant

the Ark (Bava Batra 14b). According to one opinion in the Talmud, both Tablets were together in the Ark; according to another, there were two Arks, and each contained one set of Tablets (Berakhot 8b). The Ark was built by Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, who constructed the entire Tabernacle – the portable Temple used in the desert and during the conquest of the land of Israel. The Tabernacle was the resting place for the Ark, and also contained other vessels that were used in the physical worship of God. The Biblical commentators argue over why God commanded Moses to build a Tabernacle in the first place: According to Rashi (Ex. 31:18), God realized after the sin of the Golden Calf that the Israelites needed an outlet for physical worship, and commanded that they build the Tabernacle as a way of expressing their own need for physical representation of God. According to Nachmanides (Ex. 25:1), however, the Jews were commanded to build the Tabernacle even before the sin of the Golden Calf; rather than filling a human need, the Tabernacle was God's method of achieving continuous revelation in the Israelites' camp. These two opinions as to whether the Tabernacles, and the Temples that followed them, were an a priori necessity or a necessary evil demonstrate the controversial role of physical worship in Judaism as a whole.

The Role of the Ark The Ark was used in the desert and in Israel proper for a number of spiritual and pragmatic purposes. Practically, God used the Ark as an indicator of when he wanted the nation to travel, and when to stop. In the traveling formation in the desert, the Ark was carried 2000 cubits ahead of the nation (Num. R. 2:9). According to one midrash, it would clear the path for the nation by burning snakes, scorpions, and thorns with two jets of flame that shot from its underside (T. VaYakhel, 7); another midrash says that rather than being carried by its bearers, the Ark in fact carried its bearers inches above the ground (Sotah 35a). When the Israelites went to war in the desert and during the conquering of Canaan, the Ark accompanied them; whether its presence was symbolic, to provide motivation for the Jews, or whether it actually aided them in fighting, is debated by commentators. Spiritually, the Ark was the manifestation of God's physical presence on earth (the shekhina). When God spoke with Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the desert, he did so from between the two Cherubs (Num. 7:89). Once the Ark was moved into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, and later in http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ark.html (3 of 8)2/11/2004 13:30:19

The Lost Ark of the Covenant

the Temple, it was accessible only once a year, and then, only by one person. On Yom Kippur, the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) could enter the Holy of Holies to ask forgiveness for himself and for all the nation of Israel (Lev. 16:2). The relationship between the Ark and the shekhina is reinforced by the recurring motif of clouds. God's presence is frequently seen in the guise of a cloud in the Bible (Ex. 24:16), and the Ark is constantly accompanied by clouds: When God spoke from between the Cherubs, there was a glowing cloud visible there (Ex. 40:35); when the Jews traveled, they were led by the Ark and a pillar of clouds (Num. 10:34); at night, the pillar of clouds was replaced by a pillar of fire, another common descriptor of God's appearance (Ex. 24:17); and when the High Priest entered presence of the Ark on Yom Kippur, he did so only under the cover of a cloud of incense, perhaps intended to mask the sight of the shekhina in all its glory (Lev. 16:13). The holiness of the Ark also made it dangerous to those who came in contact with it. When Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, brought a foreign flame to offer a sacrifice in the Tabernacle, they were devoured by a fire that emanated "from the Lord" (Lev. 10:2). During the saga of the capture of the Ark by the Philistines, numerous people, including some who merely looked at the Ark, were killed by its power. Similarly, the Priests who served in the Tabernacle and Temple were told that viewing the Ark at an improper time would result in immediate death (Num. 4:20).

History of the Ark The Ark accompanied the Jews throughout their time in the desert, traveling with them and accompanying them to their wars with Emor and Midian. When the Jews crossed into the land of Canaan, the waters of the Jordan River miraculously split and the Ark led them through (Josh. 3). Throughout their conquest of the land, the Jews were accompanied by the Ark. The most dramatic demonstration of its power comes when the Jews breached the walls of Jericho merely by circling them, blowing horns and carrying the Ark (Josh. 6). After the conquest was completed, the Ark, and the entire Tabernacle, were set up in Shiloh (Josh. 18) . There they remained until the battles of the Jews with the Philistines during the Priesthood of Eli. The Jews, after http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ark.html (4 of 8)2/11/2004 13:30:19

The Lost Ark of the Covenant

suffering a defeat at the Philistines' hands, took the Ark from Shiloh to Even-Ezer in hopes of winning the next battle. But the Jews were routed, and the Ark was captured by the Philistines. Back in Shiloh, Eli, the High Priest, immediately died upon hearing the news (I Sam. 4). The Philistines took the Ark back to Ashdod, their capital city in the south of Canaan, where they placed it in the temple of their god Dagon. The next day, however, they found the idol fallen on its face. After replacing the statue, they found it the next day decapitated, with only its trunk remaining, and soon afterward, the entire city of Ashdod was struck with a plague. The Philistines moved the Ark to the city of Gath, and from there to Ekron, but whatever city the Ark was in, the inhabitants were struck with plague. After seven months, the Philistines decided to send the Ark back to the Israelites, and accompanied it with expensive gifts. The Ark was taken back to Beit Shemesh, and, according to midrash, the oxen pulling the Ark burst into song as soon as it was once again in Israel's possession (A.Z. 22b). The actual text of the story, however, tells a much grimmer tale: The men of Beit Shemesh were punished for staring disrespectfully at the Ark, and many were killed with a plague. From Beit Shemesh, the Ark was transported to Kiryat Yearim, where it remained for twenty years. From there, King David transported it to Jerusalem. En route, however, the oxen pulling it stumbled, and when Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark, he died immediately. As a result of this tragedy, David decided to leave the Ark at the home of Obed-edom the Gittite. Three months later, he moved it to Jerusalem, the seat of his kingdom, where it remained until the construction of the First Temple by David's son Solomon (I Sam. 5-6). When the Ark was finally placed in the Temple, the midrash reports that the golden tree decorations that adorned the walls blossomed with fruit that grew continuously until the Temple's destruction (Yoma 39b).

The Ark's Whereabouts The Ark remained in the Temple until its The Church of St. Mary. destruction at the hand of the Babylonian The Treasury that is said empire, led by Nebuchadnezzar. What to contain the Ark is in the happened to it afterward is unknown, and background on the left. has been debated and pondered for centuries. It is unlikely that the Babylonians took it, as they did the other vessels of the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ark.html (5 of 8)2/11/2004 13:30:19

The Lost Ark of the Covenant

Temple, because the detailed lists of what they took make no mention of the Ark. According to some sources, Josiah, one of the final kings to reign in the First Temple period, learned of the impending invasion of the Babylonians and hid the Ark. Where he hid it is also questionable – according to one midrash, he dug a hole under the wood storehouse on the Temple Mount and buried it there (Yoma 53b). Another account says that Solomon foresaw the eventual destruction of the Temple, and set aside a cave near the Dead Sea, in which Josiah eventually hid the Ark (Maimonides, Laws of the Temple, 4:1). One of the most fascinating possibilities is advanced by Ethiopian Christians who claim Aerial view of the courtyard of the St. Mary that they have the Ark today. In Axum, Church in Axum, Ethiopia. Ethiopia, it is widely believed that the Ark is currently being held in the Church of Saint Mary of Zion, guarded by a monk known as the "Keeper of the Ark," who claims to have it in his possesion. According to the Axum Christian community, they acquired the Ark during the reign of Solomon, when his son Menelik, whose mother was the Queen of Sheba, stole the Ark after a visit to Jerusalem. While in the not-so-distant past the "Ark" has been brought out for Christian holidays, its keeper has not done so for several years due to the tumultuous political situation in the country. The claim has thus been impossible to verify, for no one but the monk is allowed into the tent. A more plausible claim is that of archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer, who has conducted research on the Temple Mount and inside the Dome of the Rock. He claims to have found the spot on the Mount where the Holy of Holies was located during the First Temple period. In the precise center of that spot is a section of bedrock cut out in dimensions that may match those of the Ark as reported in Exodus. This section of the mount, incidentally, is the one from which the creation of the world began, according to midrash (T. Kedoshim, 10). Based on his findings, Ritmeyer has postulated that the Ark may be buried deep inside the Temple Mount. However, it is unlikely that any excavation will ever be allowed on the Mount by the Muslim or Israeli authorities.

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The Lost Ark of the Covenant

The Role of the Ark Today The Ark remains a topic of study even today, over 2000 years after it was last seen. A great deal of research has attempted to explain the wonders that are attributed to the Ark in the Bible. One recent study suggests the possibility that the Ark represented man's first harnessing of electricity. The accounts given of peoples' sudden deaths from touching the Ark are consistent with death by a high voltage, lethal electrical charge. Such a charge could have resulted from the constant exposure of the box to static electricity, which builds up quickly in a hot, dry climate like the Middle East. The materials that the Ark was made of further support this theory: gold is one of the most powerful electrical conductors, and wood is an excellent insulator. The only remnant of the Ark in Jewish life today is the Holy Ark in which Torah scrolls are kept in synagogues. These Arks often are decorated with copies of the Tablets, reminiscent of the contents of the actual Ark of ancient times. The Ark itself plays no role in Jewish life today. Nonetheless, it remains a potent symbol of the Jewish peoples' past, and of the messianic era many believe is waiting in the future. Ironically, the Ark is most famous today as the subject of the 1981 film "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark." The movie tells of a hero's attempt to prevent the Ark from falling into the hands of the Nazis, who would harness its power for evil. While there is no evidence of Hitler ever having had an interest in the Ark, the movie does an admirable job of capturing the mystique of one of the worlds' most ancient unsolved mysteries.

Sources: Graham Hancock. The Sign and the Seal : The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Touchstone Books, 1993. Encyclopedia Judaica. "Ark of the Covenant." Ritmeyer, L., 1996. "The Ark of the Covenant: Where it Stood in Solomon's Temple". Biblical Archaeology Review 22/1: 46-55, 70-73. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ark.html (7 of 8)2/11/2004 13:30:19

The Lost Ark of the Covenant

The Discovery Channel Online. "The Lost Ark." Photo Credits: Painting courtesy of Bible Topics. Movie poster courtesy of Tim Dirks. Ethiopia photos courtesy of Your Dot Com for Africa.

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The Babylonians

The Babylonians By Mitchell Bard

During Judah's first hundred years of independence, the kings enjoyed mixed success. At first they were able to, initially greatly expanding the country by conquering its neighbors, but ultimately they were being unable to prevent rebellions from reducing the kingdom to its original size. As in Israel, the Assyrians provoked a split within Judah between those favoring the appeasement of the enemy and those who wanted to fight. Like its northern neighbor, Judah tried to do a little of both and ultimately could not stop the superior forces of Assyria. The Assyrians besieged Judah in 701 B.C. and were on the verge of overwhelming Jerusalem when they mysteriously withdrew, and Judah retained its independence. Before the Assyrians could attack again, they were conquered by a new power that burst on the scene, the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. While the former kingdom of Israel fell under the king's rule, Judah remained defiant. When an expeditionary force failed to quell the unrest, Nebuchadnezzar led his army into Jerusalem and captured the city in 597 B.C. He deported thousands of Jews who had been part of the ruling elite and who might be tempted to lead a future rebellion. Nebuchadnezzar appointed twenty-one year old Zedekiah, a descendant of King David, to serve as king. Zedekiah did not turn out to be the puppet Nebuchadnezzar expected and mounted a new revolt. This time Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the countryside and, after an eighteen-month siege, razed Jerusalem. In the typically grisly fashion of the time, Zedekiah's sons were murdered in front of him and then Zedekiah's his eyes were gouged out. A handful of http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Babylonians.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:30:21

The Babylonians

Judeans fled to Egypt, some poor, elderly, and sick peasants remained in Judah, and the rest of the population was deported to Babylon. It was 586 B.C.; Judah had outlived Israel by 136 years, but the days of the Jewish kingdoms appeared to be over.

Source: Bard, Mitchell G. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflicts. NY: MacMillan, 1999.

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The Babylonian Jewish Community: Second Temple Times until the Fifth Century

The Babylonian Jewish Community From Second Temple Times to the Fifth Century

There was a group of Jews who never left Babylonia after the Babylonian Exile in the 6th century BCE. This community more or less thrived. Living since 129 BCE under Parthian rule, a loosely knit semi-feudal state, it was able to develop its autonomous institutions with little interference from the royal government. The Parthians who always feared Roman intervention welcomed Jewish opposition to Rome, at least until the time of Hadrian. The Parthians established a Jewish liaison between the government and the Jewish community, the exilarch, who thus became the head of Babylonian Jewry. Descended allegedly from the House of David, proud of their genealogical purity, the exilarchs wore the kamara, the sash of office of the Parthian court, and disputed precedence with high Parthian officials. The community which they headed was both numerous (estimates of its number vary from 800,000 to 1,200,000) and well-based economically, comprising a fair number of farmers and many traders who grew rich as intermediaries in the profitable silk trade between China and the Roman Empire passing through Babylonia. The Jews enjoyed not only freedom of worship, autonomous jurisdiction, but even the right to have their own markets and appoint market supervisors (agoranomoi).

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The Babylonian Jewish Community: Second Temple Times until the Fifth Century

In 226 CC the Sassanids conquered the Parthians. They were devout Zoroastrians, and there was some tension between the new political leadership and the Jewish community. However, after a period of troubles and disagreement at the beginning of the reign of Shapur I (241–272), better relations were gradually established with the king. Apart from their political and economic status, the main interest of Babylonian Jewry was its relations with the rabbinic centers in Judea and its religious/political development, leading up to the creation of the Babylonian Gemara. So long as there was a Temple, Jerusalem was the religious center for the Jewish people. With the Temple's destruction in 70 CE, the relations of the Babylonian Diaspora with Israel were characterized by ambivalence. There were attempts to make Babylonian rabbinic courts independent of Israel's as early as 100 CE. These attempts failed. The people and therefore the Babylonian Jewish leadership acknowledged the authority of the Israel Jewish courts. During the Hadrianic persecution several scholars of standing, R. Yochanan Ha-Sandlar, R. Eleazar b. Shamua and other pupils of R. Akiva settled temporarily in Babylonia and thus enhanced its prestige. However, the masterful personality of the patriarch R. Judah I still dominated from Israel. There were at least five Babylonians at his court, and he claimed and was accorded the right to ordain judges for Babylonia also. R. Judah did indeed admit the genealogical superiority of the exilarch, R. Huna, but only at a safe distance. Conditions in Babylonia changed with the arrival in 219 CE at Nehardea of Abba Aricha (Rav), one of the pupils of Judah HaNasi. He arrived at Nehardea with a copy of the new best-seller, the Mishnah. Samuel, the son of Abba b. Abba, a rich silk merchant, was the leading sage at Nehardea. Samuel had established excellent relations with King Shapur I; it was due to him that the rule that civil law has the force of religious law became the guiding light for the Babylonian Jewish community. Rav, noting serious differences between himself and Samuel, founded a new academy at Sura. Meanwhile, the school of Nehardea was dispersed after the Palmyrene raid of 259 CE and reassembled at Pumbedita, which became the rival of Sura among the Babylonian schools. More academies developed at Machoza and Mata Mechasya. The teaching process seems to be similar in all of the schools. Each started with a paragraph of http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/babylonian1.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:30:22

The Babylonian Jewish Community: Second Temple Times until the Fifth Century

Mishnah to which there appear to already have been attached added traditions and discussions from the period prior to the writing of the Mishnah. These were discussed and new legal statements were added. Each of these developed chunks of material connected to a statement from the Mishnah is called a sugya. Each succeeding generation learned the sugya and then added questions, challenges (usually from another known sugya), philosophical arguments, and stories connected to either the actual materials being discussed or to an assumed principle which the legal students believed the previous generations of sages held. Since most teachers had been the students of the previous leader of the academies, many of their statements were assumed to be direct quotes of their teachers. There are also many examples of noting the behavior of a teacher as proof of that teacher's underlying principles. Some teachers believed in encouraging philosophical argumentation; others emphasized close examination of the legal texts themselves. There continued to be a group of sages who traveled between Judea and Babylonia, exchanging traditions. With the crises facing the Jewish community in the third and fourth centuries CE, the Babylonians, who were always proud of their descent, now began to insist also on their superiority in learning and in Jewish authority. During the reign of Constantine, the Nasi, Hillel II, made this easy for them. He made the rules of the calendar public, thus cutting the one remaining authoritative tie which Israel had over Babylonia. The outcome was that the legal academies in Babylonia from the 4th-6th centuries became the Jewish authoritative centers of the Jewish world.

Source: JewishGates.org

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Bet Din

Bet Din By Jacqueline Shields

The Hebrew term applied to a Jewish religious or civil court of law. The bet din, literally translated as "house of judgement," originated during the period of the Second Temple, and was known as the Sanhedrin. This establishment of courts, however, has biblical origin, and is recorded in Exodus. The text says that Moses sat as a magistrate among the people (Exodus 18:13), and he later delegated his judicial powers to appointed "chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens" (Ex. 18:21; Deuteronomy 1:15), reserving himself for jurisdiction in only the most difficult, major disputes (Ex. 18:22 and 26; Deut. 1:17). Judges were to be "able men, such as [those who] fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain" (Ex. 18:21) and "wise men, understanding and full of knowledge" (Deut. 1:13). They were charged to "hear the causes between your brethren and judge righteously between a man and his brother and the stranger," not be "partial in judgment," but to "hear the small and the great alike; fear no man, for judgment is God's" (Deut. 1:16–17). When the children of Israel settled in their land, the allocation of jurisdiction on a purely numerical basis ("thousands, hundreds, fifties, tens") was replaced by allocation on a local basis, and judges were appointed in every town within the various tribes (Deuteronomy 16:18; Sanhedrin 16b). The jurisdiction of the various courts was as follows. (1) Courts of three judges exercised jurisdiction in civil matters generally, including those which might involve the imposition of fines. They also

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Bet Din

had jurisdiction in matters of divorce. A court of three judges was required for the conversion of non-Jews, for the absolution from vows, for the circumvention of the law annulling debts in the Sabbatical year, for the non-release of slaves after six years (Ex. 21:6); for the enslavement of one who commits a theft and does not have the means to pay for the principal (Ex. 22:2, Genevah 3:11), and also for the taking of any evidence, even in noncontroversial cases. Compulsory orders in matters of ritual would also require the concurrence of three judges in order to be valid (Ketuvim 86a), as would the imposition of any punishment for disobedience. (2) Courts of 23 judges exercised jurisdiction in criminal matters including capital cases (Sanhedrin 1:4). They also exercised jurisdiction in quasi-criminal cases, in which the destruction of animals might be involved, for example such as in Leviticus 20:15–16. Where a case was originally of a civil nature, such as slander, but might in due course give rise to criminal sanctions, such as slander of unchastity, it was brought before a court of 23 (Sanhedrin 1:1). If the slander was found to be groundless, the matter would be referred to a court of three for civil judgment (Sanhedrin 5:3). (3) The court of 71 judges, known as the Sanhedrin at the time of the Second Temple, had practically unlimited judicial, legislative, and administrative powers, and certain judicial and administrative functions were reserved to it alone. The high priest, the head of a tribe, and the president of the Sanhedrin, could, if accused of a crime, only be tried by the court of 71. Certain crimes were also reserved to its jurisdiction, such as the uttering of false prophecy, rebellious teaching by an elder,"zaken mamre," and the subversion of a whole town or tribe (Sanhedrin 1:5). Certain death penalties had to be confirmed by the Sanhedrin before being carried out, such as against the rebellious son, the enticer of idolatry, and false witnesses. 4) Apart from the courts mentioned above, the Temple had a special court of priests charged with the supervision of the Temple ritual and with civil matters concerning the priests. Originally, the priests performed general judicial functions since they were known as the sole competent interpreters of God's judgment (Ex. 28:15, 30, Deut. 33:8–10), but later they adjudicated matters together or alternately with the other judges (Deut. 17:9; 19:17; 21:5). Eventually, the judicial functions of the priests were reduced to their simply being allotted some seats in the Great Sanhedrin.

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Bet Din

Judges received their authority from their immediate predecessors who "laid their hands" upon them, a process known as "semicha." The president of the Great Sanhedrin was the authority who conferred judicial powers on graduating judges in a formal procedure before a court of three. Judges were, however, also appointed by kings, a power which appears to have eventually devolved with the rule of Babylonia. The practice of semicha ceased in about the middle of the fourth century and today battei din (plural of bet din) exercise their judicial functions only as agents of an implied authority from the Ancients (Sanh. 5:8). This "agency" does not extend to capital cases, and even for cases involving fines, some consider today's judges unqualified to adjudicate. One of the consequences of the cessation of semicha was the adoption in many Western European communities of a system of election of judges to the bet din. In Spain, the judges were elected every year, along with all other officers of the community. In Israel today, the procedure for appointing rabbinical judges is similar to that for appointing secular judges (Dayyanim Act, 5715–1955), but while the qualifications of secular judges are laid down in the law, those of rabbinical judges are in each individual case attested to by the chief rabbis on the basis of examinations. The sin of appointing an unqualified judge is said to be equal to erecting an idol beside the altar for G-d (Sanh. 7b). Qualifications for judges are outlined in the Talmud in Sanhedrin and by Maimonides. Maimonides enumerates a judges qualities as follows: judges must be wise and sensible, learned in the law and full of knowledge, and also acquainted to some extent with other subjects such as medicine, arithmetic, astronomy and astrology. He believes a judge must not be too old, nor may he be a childless man. A judge must be pure in mind, pure from bodily defects, but also a man of stature and imposing appearance. Tractate Sanhedrin describes the seven fundamental qualities of a judge as wisdom, humility, fear of God, disdain of money, love of truth, love of people, and a good reputation. The text continues commenting, a judge must have a good eye, a humble soul, must be pleasant in company, and speak kindly to people; he must be very strict with himself and conquer lustful impulses, have a courageous heart to save the oppressed from the oppressor's hate, cruelty, and persecution, and eschew wrong and injustice (Sanh. 2:1–7). The text tries to avoid any possibility for bias by writing, "a judge who is a relative of one of the litigants, or has any other personal relationship toward him, loves him or hates him, must disqualify himself from sitting in http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/BetDin.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:30:24

Bet Din

judgment. . ." (Sanh. 3:4–5). The bet din belongs essentially to the period of the Second Temple, and its establishment is attributed to the prophet Ezra. He decreed that a bet din, was to convene on Mondays and Thursdays and be established in all populated centers. After the destruction of the Temple, Yochanan ben Zakkai established his bet din in Yavneh as the cultural and political center of the Jews. The Yavneh bet din was responsible for regulating the calendar, and became the religious and national center not only of Israel, but also of the Diaspora at the time. In addition to this central bet din, local battei din continued to function, particularly in the vicinity of the academies; the Talmud speaks of the courts of Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Yose (Sanh. 32b). Toward the middle of the third century, the bet din as it had been functioning, gradually lost its importance due to the rise of Jewish scholarship in Babylonia and the increased oppression of Jewry under Roman rule. In Babylonia, no bet din ever achieved preeminent authority. After the fall of Rome and throughout the diaspora, bet din's were again established, but on a lesser level than in Temple times. Throughout most of Jewish history, the community vehemently opposed its members' summoning each other before secular courts. Jews who had legal disputes with other Jews were expected to bring their opponents before a bet din composed of three rabbis. Each side was entitled to choose one rabbi, and then the two rabbis would choose a third one. The bet din would hear the testimony and arguments of both sides with the litigants representing themselves. Both sides were then questioned by the rabbis who acted as judges and issued a ruling on the case. A bet din is still used today voluntarily by Jews to settle disputes within the community, for conversion, and the validation or nullification of marriage and divorce documents. In Israel, an elaborate network of bet dins were established under the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem. The State of Israel has taken over this system, giving the bet din exclusive jurisdiction over the Jewish population in matters of personal status such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance; however, secular courts oversee all non-halachic legal issues.

Sources: Bridger, David, ed. "Bet Din." The New Jewish Encyclopedia. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/BetDin.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:30:24

Bet Din

Behrman House, Inc., New York, 1976. "Bet Din and Judges." Encyclopedia Judaica. Telushkin. Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1991. Wigoder, Geoffrey. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. Facts on File, New York, 1992.

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The Bible On Jewish Links To The Holy Land

The Bible On Jewish Links To The Holy Land By Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein The Jews' link with the land of Israel and their love for it date back almost four thousand years. It began when God told Abraham to leave his homeland, Ur Kasdim, and go "to a land that I will show thee." Abraham had such great faith and trust in God that he left his home and community. He was reassured by the divine promise, "I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves" (Genesis 12:2-3). Israel is known by a number of names, including Canaan, Eretz Yisrael, Zion, or simply as ha-aretz, meaning "the land," a sign of its belovedness and significance. It is the Holy Land, par excellence. God promised Abraham that he and his descendants would inherit the land of Israel as an eternal possession. In the words of the Bible, "On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'To your descendants I have given this land..."' (Genesis 15:18). It is interesting to note that the Hebrew verb used in the Scriptures is natati, meaning "I have given" (past tense). This passage implies that God had already given the land to the Jews at some earlier time, though this is the first record of such a promise. Rabbinic commentators suggest, however, that God had set aside the land of Israel for His people already at the time of Creation. In other words, the Jewish rights to the land were always part of the very fabric of Creation. They are eternal and unconditional. God promised Abraham, "I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/biblejew.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:30:26

The Bible On Jewish Links To The Holy Land

of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession." God also covenanted with Ishmael, regarded as the father of the Arab people. However, that promise was for nationhood, not land. But the land of Israel was not just a Divine promise. It was also the home of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah. For the past 3,000 years there was always a Jewish presence in the Holy Land. Israel is at the core of Jewish identity and peoplehood; the land shapes the Jews' self image and character as a community covenanted with God. Indeed, to repudiate the link between the Jews and the land of Israel is to repudiate the Bible itself. To denigrate the centrality of Israel for God's people is to distort God's Word.

How Did The Jews Maintain Their Attachment To Zion (Israel) Throughout The Centuries Of Exile? To fulfill their vow never to forget the Holy Land during their exile, the Jews introduced the theme of Israel into virtually every aspect of daily life and routine. To this day, Jews everywhere face toward Israel when reciting their daily prayers. A prayer for return to Zion is part of the standard Jewish blessing over meals. The Passover Seder meal, as well as the High Holy Days services, are concluded with the fervent hope and promise of, "next year in Jerusalem!" Indeed, the restoration of Israel and the ingathering of the exiles are at the heart of all Jewish prayers for redemption and for the coming of the Messiah. It is customary for the groom to break a glass at a Jewish wedding, reminding the celebrants of Jerusalem during the happiest moment of life. Jews commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the exile from Jerusalem with an annual day of fasting and mourning. Through these customs and rituals, Jews demonstrate their trust in God's faithfulness. Jews believe that those who cast their lot with Israel, praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the welfare of its inhabitants, will be rewarded by God's abundant blessing and countenance. Israel is more than just the lifeblood of the Jewish people. It is God's land, the place where Divine providence is especially manifest. "The eyes of the Lord... are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year" (Deuteronomy 11:12). It is a "Very, very good land" (Nu. 14:7); http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/biblejew.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:30:26

The Bible On Jewish Links To The Holy Land

"a blessed land" (Deut. 33:13); "the beauty of all lands" (Ezek 20:6). The Jewish mystical tradition claims that the very air of Israel makes one wiser. The land will, it is said, stubbornly "refuse" to bear fruit unless the Jews, its natural caretakers and the inhabitants for whom it was created, dwell on and cultivate it. History bears out this notion. Modern Israel was a land of desert and swamp for centuries until waves of emigrating Jewish Zionists in the mid-nineteenth century began tilling its soil. Only then did the land blossom and give forth its produce: "For the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden..." (Isaiah 51:3). God's promise to Abraham created an inexorable bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. The fulfillment of God's promises resulted in the miracle of a Jewish return to their land after nearly two millennia of dispersion. Never during the long intervening centuries did the Jews waver in their passionate yearning to return home to the land God had given them. Never did their love for Israel wane.

What Does The Existence Of The State Of Israel Mean For Jews Today? There is something ineffable about our feelings toward Israel—they can never be fully captured or articulated. For more than we grasp Israel, it grips us. Only the person who experiences this love and attachment can understand it. You see, Eretz Yisrael or Israel is not just the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants. It is not only the "holy land" at the very center and core of all Jewish beliefs and practices—it is so much more. Israel, for the Jew today, is God comforting His people. "Comfort ye, My people." It is that miracle which gives us hope for our future after enduring such a long and dark past. As the prophets say, "For there is hope for thy future, and the children shall return to their borders." After the Holocaust, we Jews gazed dumbfounded at what had occurred. Was it possible to go on believing in a God of love after losing 6 million individuals, one third of the Jewish people, almost 2 million of whom were children? Was it possible to go on believing in God's covenant with Israel and their election? Was it possible to go on believing? In God? In man? Indeed, was it possible to go on?

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The Bible On Jewish Links To The Holy Land

Like Ezekiel before us, we Jews stood amidst the ashes of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Treblinka and we looked down in the valley of Sheol we asked, "Can these dry dead bones again live?" Can we Jews possibly recover from this devastation? And behold, a miracle—God breathed life into those dry bones and they came together, sinew to sinew, bone to bone. They took on flesh and spirit. They arose and were reborn in Jerusalem. "For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Zion." What does Israel mean to the contemporary Jew? It means that God has not abandoned His people. It means that He is true to His Word! Israel's existence gives us our very will and determination to continue living... as Jews. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the welfare of all its inhabitants. They shall prosper that love thee." (Psalm 122:6)

Do Jews Believe That The Birth Of The State Of Israel Is A Miracle? People view life and events in two different ways. Some see them as they are on the surface, i.e. the "natural" order of things. Others see them on a much deeper and more penetrating level. This is what the Psalmist meant when he said, "A fool will not comprehend this." What seems obvious and revealed to the person of faith is viewed entirely differently by the one without faith. Certainly, there are those Jews who view the birth and continued existence of the State of Israel as an "amazing" occurrence, one that came about because of the courage, training and initiative of the Israeli army. And this is, of course, correct. But what this perspective fails to take into account are the words of Moses in Deuteronomy, reminding the victorious Israelis never to forget who gave them that courage, that power, that ability to win the battle. Yes, the birth of Israel and its continued survival in the face of many attempts to destroy it is a miracle. Indeed, I would go farther—the very continued existence of the Jewish people after having endured centuries of persecution, bears witness to a God Who is involved in human history, Who is concerned about its direction, and Who cares deeply about the welfare of His children. It is impossible for me to look at the unfolding events in Jewish history, particularly those in recent years, to see Jews coming from all four http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/biblejew.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:30:26

The Bible On Jewish Links To The Holy Land

corners of the earth to Israel—from the former Soviet Union, Yemen, America, black Jews from Ethiopia, and not see God's hand in these events. God is gathering His children back as He promised to do. He is settling them on their land as the prophets foretold. And He is redeeming the world as the Bible said He would. The exciting part of all this is that the drama is still unfolding—God continues to be true to Israel and His Word. It is happening right in front of our eyes. It is so obvious and clear to see. Yes, yes, yes, Israel is a miracle. "From the Lord this has come about, it is wondrous in our eyes." And yet, the fool who does not look deeper, below life's surface, will never comprehend these truths.

Source: International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

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Biblical Figures Table of Contents

Biblical Figures

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Abraham Hezekiah Isaiah Isaac Jacob Joseph ❍ Joseph’s Tomb Joshua Judges of Israel Moses

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Biblical Times

Biblical Times

The Patriarchs Jewish history began about 4,000 years ago (c. 17th century B.C.E.) with the patriarchs-Abraham, his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. Documents unearthed in Mesopotamia, dating back to 2000-1500 B.C.E., corroborate aspects of their nomadic way of life as described in the Bible. The Book of Genesis relates how Abraham was summoned from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan to bring about the formation of a people with belief in the One God. When a famine spread through Canaan, Jacob (Israel), his twelve sons and their families settled in Egypt, where their descendants were reduced to slavery and pressed into forced labor.

Exodus and Settlement After 400 years of bondage, the Israelites were led to freedom by Moses who, according to the biblical narrative, was chosen by God to take his people out of Egypt and back to the Land of Israel promised to their forefathers (c. 13th-12th centuries B.C.E.). They wandered for 40 years in the Sinai desert, where they were forged into a nation and received the Torah (Pentateuch), which included the Ten Commandments and gave form and content to their monotheistic faith. The exodus from Egypt (c.1300 B.C.E.) left an indelible imprint on the national memory of the Jewish people and became a universal symbol of liberty and freedom. Every year Jews celebrate Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Succot (Feast of Tabernacles), commemorating events of that time. During the next two centuries, the Israelites conquered most of the Land of Israel and relinquished their nomadic ways to become farmers and craftsmen; a

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Biblical Times

degree of economic and social consolidation followed. Periods of relative peace alternated with times of war during which the people rallied behind leaders known as 'judges,' chosen for their political and military skills as well as for their leadership qualities. The weakness inherent in this tribal organization in face of a threat posed by the Philistines (sea-going people from Asia Minor who settled on the country's Mediterranean coast) generated the need for a ruler who would unite the tribes and make the position permanent, with succession carried on by inheritance.

The Monarchy The first king, Saul (c. 1020 B.C.E.), bridged the period between loose tribal organization and the setting up of a full monarchy under his successor, David. King David (c.1004-965 B.C.E.) established Israel as a major power in the region by successful military expeditions, including the final defeat the region by successful military expeditions, including the final defeat of the Philistines, as well as by constructing a network of friendly alliances with nearby kingdoms. Consequently, his authority was recognized from the borders of Egypt and the Red Sea to the banks of the Euphrates. At home, he united the twelve Israelite tribes into one kingdom and placed his capital, Jerusalem, and the monarchy at the center of the country's national life. Biblical tradition describes David as a poet and musician, with verses ascribed to him appearing in the Book of Psalms.

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Biblical Times

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Biblical Times

David was succeeded by his son Solomon (c.965-930 B.C.E.) who further strengthened the kingdom. Through treaties with neighboring kings, reinforced by politically motivated marriages, Solomon ensured peace for his kingdom and made it equal among the great powers of the age. He expanded foreign trade and promoted domestic prosperity by developing major enterprises such as copper mining and metal smelting, while building new towns and fortifying old ones of strategic and economic importance. Crowning his achievements was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, which became the center of the Jewish people's national and religious life. The Bible attributes to Solomon the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Songs.

The Prophets The Prophets, religious sages and charismatic figures, who were perceived as endowed with a divine gift of revelation, preached during the period of the monarchy until a century after the destruction of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.). Whether as advisers to kings on matters of religion, ethics and politics, or as their critics, under the primacy of the relationship between the individual and God, the prophets were guided by the need for justice and issued powerful commentaries on the morality of Jewish national life. Their revelatory experiences were recorded in books of inspired prose and poetry, many of which were incorporated into the Bible. The enduring, universal appeal of the prophets derives from their call for a fundamental consideration of human values. Words such as those of Isaiah (1:17) -- "Be good, devote yourselves to justice; aid the wronged, uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow" -- continue to nourish humanity's pursuit of social justice.

Divided Monarchy The end of Solomon's rule was marred by discontent on the part of the populace, which had to pay heavily for his ambitious schemes. At the same time, preferential treatment of his own tribe embittered the others, which resulted in growing antagonism between the monarchy and the tribal separatists. After Solomon's death (930 B.C.E.), open insurrection led to the breaking away of the ten northern tribes and division of the country into a northern kingdom, Israel, and a southern kingdom, Judah, on the territory of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

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Biblical Times

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Biblical Times

The Kingdom of Israel, with its capital Samaria, lasted more than 200 years under 19 kings, while the Kingdom of Judah was ruled from Jerusalem for 350 years by an equal number of kings of the lineage of David. The expansion of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires brought first Israel and later Judah under foreign control. The Kingdom of Israel was crushed by the Assyrians (722 B.C. E.) and its people carried off into exile and oblivion. More than a hundred years later, Babylonia conquered the Kingdom of Judah, exiling most of its inhabitants as well as destroying Jerusalem and the Temple (586 B.C.E.).

The First Exile The Babylonian conquest brought an end to the First Jewish Commonwealth (First Temple period) but did not sever the Jewish people's connection to the Land of Israel. Sitting by the rivers of Babylon, the Jews pledged to remember their homeland: "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither; let my tongue stick to my palate if I cease to think of you, if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory even at my happiest hour" (Psalms 137:5-6). The exile to Babylonia, which followed the destruction of the First Temple (586 B.C.E.), marked the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora. There, Judaism began to develop a religious framework and way of life outside the Land, ultimately ensuring the people's national survival and spiritual identity and imbuing it with sufficient vitality to safeguard its future as a nation.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism

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Introduction The Pre-Mosaic Stage National Monolatry and Monotheism The Prophetic Revolution Post-Exilic Religion

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Ancient Jewish History - Civilizations and Rulers of the Ancient Middle East

Ancient Jewish History Civilizations and Rulers of the Ancient Middle East

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The Amalekites The Ammonites The Amorites The Arameans The Assyrians ❍ Revival of the Assyrian Empire under Tiglath-Pileser The Babylonians The Canaanites The Chaldeans The Edomites Greeks and Jews ❍ Alexander the Great The Hittites The Medes The Midianites The Moabites The Nabatean Kings The Persians The Philistines Roman Rule ❍ Edict of Augustus on Jewish Rights

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Ancient Jewish History - Civilizations and Rulers of the Ancient Middle East

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls By Ayala Sussman and Ruth Peled Archaeological Investigations Dating of the Scrolls The Essenes The Qumran Library

Ancient Hebrew scrolls accidentally discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin boy have kindled popular enthusiasm as well as serious scholarly interest over the past half century. The source of this excitement is what these Dead Sea Scrolls reveal about the history of the Second Temple period (520 B. C.E.-70 C.E.), particularly from the second century B.C.E. until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E.-a time of crucial developments in the crystallization of the monotheistic religions. The Judean Desert, a region reputedly barren, defied preconceptions and yielded an unprecedented treasure. The young Ta'amireh shepherd was certainly unaware of destiny when his innocent search for a stray goat led to the fateful discovery of Hebrew scrolls in a long-untouched cave. One discovery led to another, and eleven scroll-yielding caves and a habitation site eventually were uncovered. Since 1947 the site of these discoveriesthe Qumran region (the desert plain and the adjoining mountainous ridge) and the Qumran site have been subjected to countless probes; not a stone has remained unturned in the desert, not an aperture unprobed. The Qumran settlement has been exhaustively excavated. The first trove found by the Bedouins in the Judean Desert consisted of seven large scrolls from Cave I. The unusual circumstances of the find, on http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/deadsea.html (1 of 9)2/11/2004 13:30:39

The Dead Sea Scrolls

the eve of Israel's war of independence, obstructed the initial negotiations for the purchase of all the scrolls. Shortly before the establishment of the state of Israel, Professor E. L. Sukenik of the Hebrew University clandestinely acquired three of the scrolls from a Christian Arab antiquities dealer in Bethlehem. The remaining four scrolls reached the hands of Mar Athanasius Yeshua Samuel, Metropolitan of the Syrian Jacobite Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem. In 194-9 he traveled to the United States with the scrolls, but five years went by before the prelate found a purchaser. On June 1, 1954, Mar Samuel placed an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal offering "The Four Dead Sea Scrolls" for sale. The advertisement was brought to the attention of Yigael Yadin, Professor Sukenik's son, who had just retired as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces and had reverted to his primary vocation, archeology. With the aid of intermediaries, the four scrolls were purchased from Mar Samuel for $250,000 Thus, the scrolls that had eluded Yadin's father because of the war were now at his disposal. Part of the purchase price was contributed by D. S. Gottesman, a New York philanthropist. His heirs sponsored construction of the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem's Israel Museum, in which these unique manuscripts are exhibited to the public. The seven scrolls from Cave I, now housed together in the Shrine of the Book, are Isaiah A, Isaiah B, the Habakkuk Commentary, the Thanksgiving Scroll, the Community Rule (or the Manual of Discipline), the War Rule (or the War of Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness), and the Genesis Apocryphon, the last being in Aramaic. All the large scrolls have been published.

Archaeological Investigations The Caves. At least a year elapsed between the discovery of the scrolls in 194and the initiation of a systematic archeological investigation of the Qumran site. The northern Dead Sea area, the location of Qumran, became and remained part of Jordan until 1967. The search for scroll material rested in the hands of the Bedouins, who ravaged the Cave I site, no doubt losing precious material in the process. Early in 1949 the cave site was finally identified by the archeological authorities of Jordan. G. Lankester Harding, director of the Jordanian Antiquities Department, undertook to excavate Cave I with Père Roland de Vaux, a French Dominican priest who headed the École Biblique in http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/deadsea.html (2 of 9)2/11/2004 13:30:39

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Jerusalem. Exploration of the cave, which lay one kilometer north of Wadi Qumran, yielded at least seventy fragments, including bits of the original seven scrolls. This discovery established the provenance of the purchased scrolls. Also recovered were archeological artifacts that confirmed the scroll dates suggested by paleographic study. The Bedouins continued to search for scrolls, as these scraps of leather proved to be a fine source of income. Because Cave I had been exhausted by archeological excavation, the fresh material that the Bedouins were offering proved that Cave I was not an isolated phenomenon in the desert and that other caves with manuscripts also existed. The years between 1951 and 1956 were marked by accelerated activity in both the search for caves and the archeological excavation of sites related to tile manuscripts. An eight-kilometer-long strip of cliffs was thoroughly investigated. Of the eleven caves that yielded manuscripts, five were discovered by the Bedouins and six by archeologists. Some of the caves were particularly rich in material. Cave 3 preserved two oxidized rolls of beaten copper (the Copper Scroll), containing a lengthy roster of real or imaginary hidden treasures-a tantalizing enigma to this day. Cave 4. was particularly rich in material: 15,000 fragments from at least six hundred composite texts were found there. The last manuscript cave discovered, Cave II, was located in 1956, providing extensive documents, including the Psalms Scroll, an Aramaic targum of Job, and the Temple Scroll, the longest (about twenty-nine feet) of the Qumran manuscripts. The Temple Scroll was acquired by Yigael Yadin in 1967 and is now housed alongside the first seven scrolls in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. All the remaining manuscripts, sizable texts as well as minute fragments, are stored in the Rockefeller Museum building in Jerusalem, the premises of the Israel Antiquities Authority Khirbet Qumran (The Qumran Ruin). Père de Vaux gradually realized the need to identify a habitation site close to the caves. Excavating such a site could provide clues that would help identify the people who deposited the scrolls. The ruins of Qumran lie on a barren terrace between the limestone cliffs of the Judean Desert and the maritime bed along the Dead Sea. The excavations uncovered a complex of structures, 262 by 328 feet (80 by 100 meters), preserved to a considerable height. The structures were neither military nor private but rather communal in character.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

Nearby were remains of burials. Pottery uncovered was identical with that of Cave I and confirmed the link with the nearby caves. Following the initial excavations, de Vaux suggested that this site was the wilderness retreat established by the Essene sect, which was alluded to by ancient historians. The sectarians inhabited neighboring locations, most likely caves, tents, and solid structures, but depended on the center for communal facilities such as stores of food and water. Excavations conducted in 1956 and 1958 at the neighboring site of 'En Feshkha proved it to be the agricultural adjunct of Qumran. The final report on the Qumran settlement excavations is pending, but the results arc known through preliminary publications.

Dating of the Scrolls The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls caused heated controversy in scholarly circles over their date and the identity of the community they represented. Professor Sukenik, after initially defining the time span of the scrolls as the Second Temple period, recognized their special significance and advocated the now widely accepted theory that they were remnants of the library of the Essenes. At the time, however, he was vociferously opposed by a number of scholars who doubted the antiquity as well as the authenticity of the texts. Lingering in the memory of learned circles was the notorious Shapira affair of 1883. M. Shapira, a Jerusalem antiquities dealer, announced the discovery of an ancient text of Deuteronomy. His texts, allegedly inscribed on fifteen leather strips, caused a huge stir in Europe and were even exhibited at the British Museum. Shortly thereafter, the leading European scholars of the day denounced the writings as rank forgeries. Today scholarly opinion regarding the time span and background of the Dead Sea Scrolls is anchored in historical, paleographic, and linguistic evidence, corroborated firmly by carbon 14-datings. Some manuscripts were written and copied in the third century B.C.E., but the bulk of the material, particularly the texts that reflect on a sectarian community, are originals or copies from the first century B.C.E.; a number of texts date from as late as the years preceding the destruction of the site in 68 C.E. at the hands of the Roman legions.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Qumran sect's origins are postulated by some scholars to be in the communities of the Hasidim, the pious anti-Hellenistic circles formed in the early daysof the Maccabees. The Hasidim may have been the precursors of the Essenes, who were concerned about growing Hellenization and strove to abide by the Torah. Archeological and historical evidence indicates that Qumran was founded in the second half of the second century B.C.E., during the time of the Maccabean dynasty. A hiatus in the occupation of the site is linked to evidence of a huge earthquake. Qumran was abandoned about the time of the Roman incursion of 68 C.E., two years before the collapse of Jewish self-government in Judea and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The chief sources of information for the history of this fateful time span are the Qumran scrolls and the excavations, but earlier information on the Essenes was provided by their contemporaries: Josephus Flavius, Philo of Alexandria, and Pliny the Elder. Their accounts arc continuously being borne out by the site excavations and study of the writings. The historian Josephus relates the division of the Jews of the Second Temple period into three orders: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. The Sadducees included mainly the priestly and aristocratic families; the Pharisees constituted the Jay circles; and the Essenes were a separatist group, part of which formed an ascetic monastic community that retreated to the wilderness. The exact political and religious affinities of each of these groups, as well as their development and interrelationships, are still relatively obscure and arc the source of widely disparate scholarly views. The crisis that brought about the secession of the Essenes from mainstream Judaism is thought to have occurred when the Maccabean ruling princes Jonathan (160-142 B.C.E.) and Simeon (142-134 B.C.E.) usurped the office of high priest (which included secular duties), much to the consternation of conservative Jews; some of them could not tolerate the situation and denounced the new rulers. The persecution of the Essenes and their leader, the teacher of righteousness probably elicited the sect's apocalyptic visions. These included the overthrow of "the wicked priest" of Jerusalem and of the evil people and, in the dawn of the Messianic Age, the recognition of their community as the true Israel. The

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retreat of these Jews into the desert would enable them "to separate themselves from the congregation of perverse men (IQ Serekh 5:2). A significant feature of the Essene sect is its calendar, which was based on a solar system Of 364 days, unlike the common Jewish calendar, which was lunar and consisted Of 354-days. It is not clear how the sectarian calendar was reconciled, as was the normative Jewish calendar, with the astronomical time system. The sectarian calendar was always reckoned from a Wednesday, the day on which God created the luminaries. The year consisted of fifty-two weeks, divided into four seasons of thirteen weeks each, and the festivals consistently fell on the same days of the week. A similar solar system was long familiar from pseudepigraphic works. The sectarian calendar played a weighty, role in the schism of the community from the rest of Judaism, as the festivals and fast days of the sect were ordinary work days for the mainstream community and vice versa. The author of the Book of Jubilees accuses the followers of the lunar calendar of turning secular "days of impurity" into "festivals and holy days" (Jubilees 6:36-37). The Essenes persisted in a separatist existence through two centuries, occupying themselves with study and a communal way of life that included worship, prayer, and work. It is clear, however, that large groups of adherents also lived in towns and villages outside the Qumran area. The word Essene isnever distinctly mentioned in the scrolls. How then can we attribute either the writings or the sites of the Judean Desert to the Essenes? The argument in favor of this ascription is supported by the tripartite division of Judaism referred to in Qumran writings (for example, in the Nahum Commentary) into Ephraim, Menasseh, and Judah, corresponding to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. As the Essenes refer to themselves in the scrolls as Judah, it is quite clear whom they regarded themselves to be. Moreover, their religious concepts and beliefs as attested in the scrolls conform to those recorded by contemporary writers and stand in sharp contrast to those of the other known Jewish groups. In most cases the principles of the Essene way of life and beliefs are described by contemporaneous writers in language similar to the selfdescriptions found in the scrolls. Customs described in ancient sources as Essene-such as the probationary period for new members, the strict

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

hierarchy practiced in the organization of the sect, their frequent ablutions, and communal meals-are all echoed in the scrolls. From the Community Rule: "Communally they shall cat and communally they shall bless and communally they shall take counsel" (IQ Serekh 6:1). Finally, the location of the sect is assigned to the Dead Sea area by the Roman historian Pliny the Elder. Although this evidence is accepted by the majority of scholars as conclusive in identifying the Essenes with the Qumran settlement and the manuscripts found in the surrounding caves, a number of scholars remain vehemently opposed. Some propose that the site was a military garrison or even a winter villa. The scrolls are viewed as an eclectic collection, neither necessarily inscribed in the Dead Sea area nor sectarian in nature, perhaps even remains of the library of the Temple in Jerusalem. Other scholars view the texts as the writings of forerunners or even followers of Jesus--Jewish Christians--who still observed Jewish law.

The Qumran Library The collection of writing recovered in the Qumran environs has restored to us a voluminous corpus of Jewish documents dating from the third century B.C.E. to 68 C.E., demonstrating the rich literary activity of Second Temple-period Jewry. The collection comprises documents of a varied nature, most of them of a distinct religious bent. The chief categories represented are biblical, apocryphal or pseudepigraphical, and sectarian writings. The study of this original library has demonstrated that the boundaries between these categories is far from clear-cut. The biblical manuscripts include what are probably the earliest copies of these texts to have come down to us. Most of the books of the Bible are represented in the collection. Some books are extant in large number of copies; others are represented only fragmentarily on mere scraps of parchment. The biblical texts display considerable similarity to the standard Masoretic (received) text. This, however, is not always the rule, and many texts diverge from the Masoretic. For example, some of the texts of Samuel from Cave 4 follow the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Bible translated in the third to second centuries B.C.E. Indeed. Qumran has yielded copies of the Septuagint in Greek. The biblical scrolls in general have provided many new readings that facilitate the reconstruction of the textual history of the Old Testament. It is also significant that several manuscripts of the Bible, including the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/deadsea.html (7 of 9)2/11/2004 13:30:39

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Leviticus Scroll are inscribed not in the Jewish script dominant at the time but rather in the ancient paleo-Hebrew script. A considerable number of apocryphal and pseudepigraphic texts are preserved at Qumran, where original Hebrew and Aramaic versions of these Jewish compositions of the Second Temple period were first encountered. These writings, which arc not included in the canonical Jewish scriptures, were preserved by different Christian churches and were transmitted in Greek, Ethiopic, Syriac, Armenian, and other translations. Some of these are narrative texts closely related to biblical compositions, such as the Book of Jubilees and Enoch, whereas others arc independent works-for example, Tobit and Ben Sira. Apparently some of these compositions were treated by the Qumran community as canonical and were studied by them. The most original and unique group of writings from Qumran are the sectarian Ones, which were practically unknown until their discovery in 1947. An exception is the Damascus Document (or Damascus Covenant), which lacked a definite identification before the discoveries of the Dead Sea area. This widely varied literature reveals the beliefs and customs of a pietistic commune, probably centered at Qumran, and includes rules and ordinances, biblical commentaries, apocalyptic visions, and liturgical works, generally attributed to the last quarter of the second century B.C.E. and onward. The "rules," the collections of rules and instructions reflecting the practices Of the commune, arc exemplified by the Damascus Document, the Community Rule, and Some Torah Precepts. Here we witness a considerable corpus of legal material (Halakhah) that has Much in common with the rabbinic tradition preserved at a later date in the Mishnah. The Halakhah emerging from the sectarian writings seems to be corroborated by the sectarian Halakhah referred to in rabbinic sources. The biblical commentaries (pesharim), such as the Habakkuk Commentary, the Nahum Commentary, and the Hosea Commentary, are attested solely at Qumran and grew out of the sect's eschatological presuppositions. The Scriptures were scanned by the sect for allusions to current and future events. These allusions could be understood only by the sectarians themselves, because only they possessed "eyes to see"-their distinct eschatological vision. Liturgical works figure prominently among http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/deadsea.html (8 of 9)2/11/2004 13:30:39

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the sectarian manuscripts at Qumran because of the centrality of prayer in this period. The Thanksgiving Psalms (Hodayot) are of two types: those characterized by a personal tone, attributed by some to the "teacher of righteousness," and the communal type, referring to a group. Many more compositions deserve mention, but this brief survey demonstrates the major role played by the Dead Sea Scrolls in improving our comprehension of this pivotal moment in Jewish history.

Source: Ayala Sussman and Ruth Peled, Scrolls From the Dead Sea, (DC: Library of Congress, 1993).

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The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after their Discovery

The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after their Discovery by Simon Griver

Back in 1947, a Bedouin shepherd boy stumbled upon one of the century's greatest finds in a dark cave in the Judean desert. He sold three of the seven scrolls to an antiquities dealer in Bethlehem, who in turn sold them to the eminent archeologist Prof Eliezer Sukenik of the Hebrew University. The four remaining scrolls found their way to the U.S. and were purchased in 1954 by Prof Sukenik's son, Professor Yigael Yadin, on behalf of the government of Israel. Over the years, thousands more fragments of parchment, some papyrus and some leather, were found and pieced together into 80 documents. Today, the majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls have already been interpreted and published. Since 1965, they have been on display at the Israel Museum in a distinctive white pavilion called the Shrine of the Book, which has become a popular tourist site in Israel. At first glance, the massive international interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls is baffling. The ragged pieces of parchment contain so much scribble in the eyes of many who look at them and are even difficult to decipher for those who know Hebrew. Yet the dry desert climate of the region meant that the parchments were amazingly well-preserved, and historians were able to uncover their secrets. "The Dead Sea Scrolls represent a turning point in Jewish history," stresses Dr. Adolfo Roitman, curator of the Shrine of the Book. "They reveal the link between Biblical Israel and the Jewish culture of the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/dead1.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:30:42

The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after their Discovery

Talmudic period." According to Dr. Magen Broshi, who served as curator of the Shrine of the Book from 1965 to 1995, it is the fascinating story behind the scrolls that has captured the world's imagination. "Not only are the scrolls the oldest known copy of the Old Testament," he explains, "but they belonged to the Essenes, a mysterious ascetic Jewish sect that existed about 2,000 years ago and is believed to have had a great influence on the early Christians." Most of the Essenes, who were mentioned by the contemporary historians Pliny and Josephus, lived on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea region. Nearly a third of the documents that were found in the caves of Qumran overlooking the Dead Sea contain the books of the Old Testament, save for the Book of Esther. "The levity of the Book of Esther would not have been to the sect's taste," speculates Dr. Broshi. "The banquets, the drunkenness and Esther's flirtation with Ahasuerus would not have been approved of by the Essenes." Many of the non-Old Testament scrolls contain details about the Essene sect and their values. One of the scrolls tells the story of the battle between the "sons of light and the sons of darkness" and echoes the struggle between good and evil. The Essenes included celibate men, a phenomenon rarely found in Judaism, and their influence on the early Christians is unquestionable, making the scrolls of immense interest to Christian, as well as Jewish scholars. The 50 years since the scrolls' discovery have been marked by enthusiastic international debate as to the dating of the scrolls, the nature of the Dead Sea sect, and more. Controversy has also surrounded the slow pace of the publishing of the scrolls and the question of access to the scrolls. To mark half a century since the discovery of the first scrolls the Israel Philatelic Service issued a stamp depicting one of the ceramic jars in which the scrolls were found against a backdrop of the Judean Desert.... Undoubtedly these ancient manuscripts will remain a witness to Jewish continuity and a source of knowledge regarding the roots of Christianity for centuries to come.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after their Discovery

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Decapolis

Decapolis

The Decapolis (Greek: "Ten Cities") was a region including 10 originally independent Greek city states, all of which lay east of the Jordan river except for Scythopolis [ancient Beth Shean]. Each city was the center of its own administrative district. Several were brought under Judean control by Aristobulus I and Alexander Jannai but were never Judaized. Pompey restored their nominal autonomy under the protection of the Roman governor of Syria. Augustus placed Gadara and Hippos under Herod. The synoptic gospels report several trips by Jesus into this largely non-Jewish region, but with imprecise geography. During the Jewish revolt [66-70 CE], Jewish Christians reportedly migrated to Pella.

Source: Into His Own

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The Diaspora

The Diaspora

The Jewish state comes to an end in 70 AD, when the Romans begin to actively drive Jews from the home they had lived in for over a millennium. But the Jewish Diaspora ("diaspora" ="dispersion, scattering") had begun long before the Romans had even dreamed of Judaea. When the Assyrians conquered Israel in 722, the Hebrew inhabitants were scattered all over the Middle East; these early victims of the dispersion disappeared utterly from the pages of history. However, when Nebuchadnezzar deported the Judaeans in 597 and 586 BC, he allowed them to remain in a unified community in Babylon. Another group of Judaeans fled to Egypt, where they settled in the Nile delta. So from 597 onwards, there were three distinct groups of Hebrews: a group in Babylon and other parts of the Middle East, a group in Judaea, and another group in Egypt. Thus, 597 is considered the beginning date of the Jewish Diaspora. While Cyrus the Persian allowed the Judaeans to return to their homeland in 538 BC, most chose to remain in Babylon. A large number of Jews in Egypt became mercenaries in Upper Egypt on an island called the Elephantine. All of these Jews retained their religion, identity, and social customs; both under the Persians and the Greeks, they were allowed to run their lives under their own laws. Some converted to other religions; still others combined the Yahweh cult with local cults; but the majority clung to the Hebraic religion and its new-found core document, the Torah. In 63 BC, Judaea became a protectorate of Rome. Coming under the administration of a governor, Judaea was allowed a king; the governor's business was to regulate trade and maximize tax revenue. While the Jews despised the Greeks, the Romans were a nightmare. Governorships were bought at high prices; the governors would attempt to squeeze as much http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Diaspora.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:30:45

The Diaspora

revenue as possible from their regions and pocket as much as they could. Even with a Jewish king, the Judaeans revolted in 70 AD, a desperate revolt that ended tragically. In 73 AD, the last of the revolutionaries were holed up in a mountain fort called Masada; the Romans had besieged the fort for two years, and the 1,000 men, women, and children inside were beginning to starve. In desperation, the Jewish revolutionaries killed themselves rather than surrender to the Romans. The Romans then destroyed Jerusalem, annexed Judaea as a Roman province, and systematically drove the Jews from Palestine. After 73 AD, Hebrew history would only be the history of the Diaspora as the Jews and their world view spread over Africa, Asia, and Europe

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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Egypt and the Wanderings

Egypt and the Wanderings (~1500-1250 BC)

The Children of Israel in Egypt However dim and uncertain Hebrew history is in the age of the patriarchs, there is no question that the migration out of Egypt around 1250 BC is the single most important event in Hebrew history. More than anything else in history, this event gave the Hebrews an identity, a nation, a founder, and a name, used for the first time in the very first line of Exodus, the biblical account of the migration: "bene yisrael," "the children of Israel." How did this happen? How did this diverse set of tribal groups all worshipping a god they called "god," suddenly cohere into a more or less unified national group? What happened in Egypt that didn't happen with other foreigners living there? Well, we really can't answer that question, for we have almost no account whatsoever of the Hebrews in Egypt, even in Hebrew history. For all the momentousness of the events of the migration for the Hebrews and the dramatic nature of the rescue, including plagues and catastrophes raining down on Egypt, the Egyptians do not seem to have noticed the Hebrews or to even know that they were living in their country. While we have several Egyptian records of foreign groups during the New Kingdom, they are records of actively expelling groups they feel are threatening or overly powerful. The Hebrews never appear in these records, nor do any of the events recounted in the Hebrew history of the event. The Hebrews themselves are only interested in the events directly leading up to the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebegypt.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:30:47

Egypt and the Wanderings

migration; all the events in the centuries preceding are passed over in silence. We can make some guesses about the Hebrews in Egypt, though. It isn't unreasonable to believe that a sizable Hebrew population lived in the north of Egypt from about 1500-1250 BC; enormous numbers of tribal groups, most of them Semitic, had been settling in northern Egypt from about 1800 BC. These foreigners had grown so powerful that for a short time they dominated Egypt, ruling the Egyptians themselves; this period is called the Third Intermediate Period in Egyptian history. When the Egyptians reasserted dominance over Egypt at the start of the New Kingdom, they actively expelled as many foreigners as they could. Life got fairly harsh for these foreigners, who were called "habiru," which was applied to landless aliens (taken from the word, "apiru," or foreigner). Is this where the Hebrews got their name? It's a hotly contested issue. Nevertheless, the New Kingdom kings also began to garrison their borders in the north and east in order to prevent foreigners from entering the country in the first place. In particular, the Egyptian king, Seti I (1305-1290), moved his capital to Avaris at the very north of the Nile delta. This move was a shrewd move, for it established a powerful military presence right at the entrance to Egypt. Garrisoned cities, however, don't pop into existence at a whim; they are labor intensive affairs. Typically, building projects involved heavy taxation of local populations; these taxes took the form of labor taxes. It isn't unreasonable to guess that the heaviest burden of these taxes fell on the foreigners living in the area, which would include the Hebrews. As best as we can guess, we believe that these building projects form the substance of the oppression of the Hebrews described in Exodus.

Moses and the Yahweh Cult Nothing, however, should have prevented these oppressed and miserable foreigners from spilling into the anonymity of history—as so many had done before and since. One figure, however, changed the course of this history and united some of these foreigners into a distinct people; he also gave them a religion and a theology that would forever unite them in a singular purpose in history. That person was Moses. In spite of the masterful portrayal of him in Exodus , he is a difficult figure to pin down. Few people dispute that Moses was a reality in history, whether as an individual or a group of individuals, but there are several perplexing aspects of the man. First, he has an Egyptian name (as do many of his

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relatives). Second, he seems to spend a large amount of time among a nonHebrew people, the Midianites, where he marries and seems to learn the Yahweh religion, and some of its cultic practices, from the Midianites. Are there two Moses, an Egyptian and a Hebrew? Or an Egyptian and a Midianite? And are the Midianites the first peoples to worship Yahweh and who then transmit this religion to the Hebrews? The question is complicated by the presence of Miriam, Moses' sister, in the migration. For she is the first individual in the Hebrew bible to be called a "prophet," and seems to have been an important player in the migration, possibly even being the principle figure in the climactic battle between the Egyptians and the Hebrews at the Sea of Reeds. At some point, however, there was a falling out between Miriam and Moses, and Miriam gets lost to history. It is equally difficult to pinpoint exactly who participated in the migration. Although the focus is on the Hebrews, Exodus claims that a "diverse group of peoples" left Egypt with Moses. Who were these? Did they include other Semites? Was the migration to Egypt a staggered affair, or was it a single, heroic migration as indicated in Exodus? What resistance did the Egyptians put up? What was the nature of their battle with the Egyptians at the Sea of Reeds? The account of this battle is vitally important to Hebrew history, for the deliverance of the Hebrews at the Sea of Reeds stands as the single most powerful symbol of Yahweh's protection of the Hebrews. Exodus gives two accounts; in the first, Yahweh blows the water away to create a ford, and the Egyptians get stuck in the mud and go home. In the second, Yahweh separates the waters and drowns the Egyptians when they try to cross. Which is the correct account? It's difficult to answer any of these questions. In the end, the only account we have of the migration from Egypt is the Hebrew account. Several salient aspects give this narrative its foundational role in the Hebrew view of history. First, Moses is especially chosen by Yahweh to deliver Yahweh's people. In other words, Yahweh directly intervenes in history in order to bring about his purposes for his people. Second, the people of Yahweh become a national entity, identified by the name, "bene yisrael," rather than simply being a diverse group of tribes. They are united around a specific leader, Moses. Third, the events in Egypt, including the plagues and the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites at the Sea of Reeds when pursued by the king's army, are meant to serve as the primary proof of God's election of the Hebrews. There's no question that these stories were told and retold among the Hebrews as the most important events of their history. For in the events leading up to and involving the migration from Egypt, Yahweh proved once and for all that he would use and protect the

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Hebrews as the people, and the only people, selected by Yahweh. Third, Hebrew religion became the Yahweh religion. The Hebrews did not worship "Yahweh" before the migration, but learned the cult, according to Exodus, from Moses during the migration. This introduction to Yahweh and the Yahweh cult occurred in the southernmost region of the Arabian peninsula, in an area around Mount Sinai. This area had been occupied by a nomadic, tribal people called Midianites. They seem to have worshipped a kind of nature god which they believed lived on Mount Sinai. It is here, living with a priest of the Midianites, called Jethro, that Moses first encounters Yahweh (on Mount Sinai) and learns his name for the first time. The name of god, which in Hebrew is spelled YHWH, is difficult to explain. Scholars generally believe that it derives from the Semitic word, "to be," and so means something like, "he causes to be." Nevertheless, when Moses returns to Sinai with the people of Israel and stays in the area (this period is called the Sinai pericope), Jethro declares that he has always known Yahweh to be the most powerful of all gods (was the Midianite religion, then, a religion of Yahweh?). During the Sinai pericope, all the laws and cultic practices of the new Yahweh religion are set down. The laws themselves come directly from Yahweh in the Decalogue, or "ten commandments." The Decalogue is a unique part of the Hebrew Torah in that it is the only part of Hebrew scriptures which claims to be the words of god written down on the spot . Whatever happened in the migration from Egypt to Canaan, it is clear that somewhere in this period the general laws and cultic practices of the Hebrews settled down into a definite form. These laws and this new cult of Yahweh would form the eternal character of the Hebrews down to the present day. What began as a "diverse group of peoples" has become one people, who then systematically begin to settle the land of the Canaanites.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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Pharaoh

Pharaoh

A Pharaoh is a king of ancient Egypt. Literally, the word "Pharoah" means "great house," and refers to the residence of the leader. Three Pharaohs are mentioned at length in both the books of Genesis and Exodus. The first Pharaoh is mentioned when Abraham and Sarah are traveling through Canaan (Genesis 12:14-20). Abraham lied and told the Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister because he feared that Pharaoh would kill him in order to marry his wife. The Pharaoh does indeed desire Sarah for his wife, but becomes enraged that Abraham lied to him about his relation to her (Genesis 13:18). The second Pharaoh is mentioned in Genesis 41:40 and 41:45. Joseph became viceroy to Pharaoh, and married his daughter Asenath.This Pharaoh had a good relationship with Jacob's family and invited them to live in the land of Egypt during the famine in Canaan. The third Pharaoh (Exodus 1:8) "did not know Joseph." He embittered the lives of the Israelites, making them collect straw and forcing them to do much heavy manual labor. He announced a decree that the Hebrew male babies should be killed (Exodus 1:16).

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Pharaoh

Pharaoh

Dates

Min/Menes

c. 3000

Cheops Chephren Mycerinus Moeris Sesostris Pheros Phampsinitus (Ramesses)

2596-2573

Asychis

945-924

Anysis Dodecarchs Sabacos Sethos Psammetichus Necos Psammis (Psammetichus II)

818-715 780-664 716-702

Apries

589-570

1844-1797

1305-1069

664-610 610-595 595-589

Amasis 570-526 Psammenitus 526-525 (Psammetichus III)

Sources: 1. Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia, NY: Behrman House, 1976; 2. Navigating the Bible II,

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3. Potok, Chaim. Wanderings: Chaim Potok's History of the Jews. New York: Alfred A. Knoff, Inc. 1978. p. 38. 4. Herodotus Website.

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Exile

Exile (597-538 BC)

The Chaldeans, following standard Mesopotamian practice, deported the Jews after they had conquered Jerusalem in 597 BC. The deportations were large, but certainly didn't involve the entire nation. Somewhere around 10,000 people were forced to relocate to the city of Babylon, the capital of the Chaldean empire. In 586 BC, Judah itself ceased to be an independent kingdom, and the earlier deportees found themselves without a homeland, without a state, and without a nation. This period, which actually begins in 597 but is traditionally dated at 586, is called the Exile in Jewish history; it ends with an accident in 538 when the Persians overthrow the Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Chaldeans, only deported the most prominent citizens of Judah: professionals, priests, craftsmen, and the wealthy. The "people of the land" (am-hares ) were allowed to stay. So Jewish history, then, has two poles during the exile: the Jew in Babylon and the Jews who remain in Judah. We know almost nothing of the Jews in Judah after 586. Judah seems to have been wracked by famine, according the biblical book, Lamentations, which was written in Jerusalem during the exile. The entire situation seemed to be one of infinite despair. Some people were better off; when Nebuchadnezzar deported the wealthy citizens, he redistributed the land among the poor. So some people were better off. In addition, there were rivalries between the two groups of Jews. It is clear that the wealthy and professional Jews in Babylon regarded themselves as the true Jewish people.

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Exile

The salient feature of the exile, however, was that the Jews were settled in a single place by Nebuchadnezzar. While the Assyrian deportation of Israelites in 722 BC resulted in the complete disappearance of the Israelites, the deported Jews formed their own community in Babylon and retained their religion, practices, and philosophies. Some, it would seem, adopted the Chaldean religion (for they name their offspring after Chaldean gods), but for the most part, the community remained united in its common faith in Yahweh. They called themselves the "gola," ("exiles"), or the "bene gola" ("the children of the exiles"), and within the crucible of despair and hopelessness, they forged a new national identity and a new religion. The exile was unexplainable; Hebrew history was built on the promise of Yahweh to protect the Hebrews and use them for his purposes in human history. Their defeat and the loss of the land promised to them by Yahweh seemed to imply that their faith in this promise was misplaced. This crisis, a form of cognitive dissonance (when your view of reality and reality itself do not match one another), can precipitate the most profound despair or the most profound reworking of a world view. For the Jews in Babylon, it did both. From texts such as Lamentations , which was probably written in Jerusalem, and Job, written after the exile, as well as many of the Psalms, Hebrew literature takes on a despairing quality. The subject of Job is human suffering itself. Undeserving of suffering, Job, an upright man, is made to suffer the worst series of calamities possible because of an arbitrary test. When he finally despairs that there is no cosmic justice, the only answer he receives is that humans shouldn't question God's will. Many of the psalms written in this period betray an equal hopelessness. But the Jews in Babylon also creatively remade themselves and their world view. In particular, they blamed the disaster of the Exile on their own impurity. They had betrayed Yahweh and allowed the Mosaic laws and cultic practices to become corrupt; the Babylonian Exile was proof of Yahweh's displeasure. During this period, Jewish leaders no longer spoke about a theology of judgment, but a theology of salvation. In texts such as Ezekiel and Isaiah, there is talk that the Israelites would be gathered together once more, their society and religion purified, and the unified Davidic kingdom be re-established. So this period is marked by a resurgence in Jewish tradition, as the exiles looked back to their Mosaic origins in an effort to revive their original

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Exile

religion. It is most likely that the Torah took its final shape during this period or shortly afterward, and that it became the central text of the Jewish faith at this time as well. This fervent revival of religious tradition was aided by another accident in history: when Cyrus the Persian conquered Mesopotamia, he allowed the Jews to return home. This was no ordinary event, though. Cyrus sent them home specifically to worship Yahweh—what was once only a kingdom would become a nation of Yahweh.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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Gadara

Gadara

A city of the Decapolis eight miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee and seven miles east of the Jordan river. Situated at more than 1200 ft. above sea-level the site offers a breath-taking panorama of the surrounding region. Gadara was a typical Hellenistic city that became a center of Greek culture under the Seleucids. It was the hometown of the Cynic philosopher Menippus [3rd c. BCE] who invented the genre of mocking narrative satire imitated by later Greek and Latin writers [e.g., Petronius' Satyricon] & birthplace of the poet Meleager [1st c. BCE] who compiled the first Greek poetic anthology. In good satiric style Mark 5 portrays Jesus as expelling a demon named "Legion" — the basic unit of the Roman army — from the region of the "Gerasenes" (an inland city-state of the Decapolis south of Gadara high in the Jordanian mountains, miles from any major body of water). Matthew sets this incident closer to the Sea of Galilee in the territory of the "Gadarenes." Like the satires of Menippus, however, the setting of this exorcism story is purely imaginative, since there are no cliffs in the region of Gadara, much less Gerasa, that border on a lake. The site usually shown tourists as the location of this exorcism — Kursi below the slopes of the Golan 12 miles north of Gadara — has cliffs that descend to the sea but lacks evidence of a settlement in the 1st c. CE and or any association with either Gadara or Gerasa.

Source: Into His Own http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Gadara.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:30:53

Gadara

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The Great Assembly

The Great Assembly

According to traditional Jewish historiography, the Great Assembly (Anshe Knesset HaGedolah) was an assembly of 120 rabbis that ruled in the period after the time of the prophets up to the time of the development of rabbinic Judaism in 70 CE. They bridge a period of about two centuries. The tradition teaches that they redacted the books of Ezekiel, the twelve minor prophets (The Trei Asar), and the books of Daniel and Esther. They also composed the Shemonah Esreh, the standing prayer (Amidah) of 18, later 19, prayers that are still recited by Jews today. They canonized the Tanakh. Most important, they enacted a democratization of Jewish education, making the Torah the possession of all, instead of just the priestly class. Historically, the Great Assembly described in Nehemiah 8-10 was a public assembly of Jews who returned to Israel after the exile in Babylonia. In this gathering the leaders and people of Israel rededicated themselves to the Torah as their inheritance and code of law.

Source: Shamash

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Hebron Table of Contents

Hebron

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An Introduction to the City of Hebron The Cave of Machpelah — Tomb of the Patriarchs Hebron Hebron 2000 [Map] The Hebron Massacre of 1929 The Hebron Protocol Kiryat Arba Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron

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Hillel and Shammai

Hillel and Shammai

In the first century BCE, Babylonian born Hillel (later known as Hillel the Elder) migrated to Palestine to study and worked as a woodcutter, eventually becoming the most influential force in Jewish life. Hillel is said to have lived in such great poverty that he was sometimes unable to pay the admission fee to study Torah, and because of him that fee was abolished. He was known for his kindness, gentleness, concern for humanity. One of his most famous sayings, recorded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, a tractate of the Mishnah), is "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" The Hillel organization, a network of Jewish college student organizations, is named for him. Hillel and his descendants established academies of learning and were the leaders of Palestinean Jewry for several centuries. The Hillel dynasty ended with the death of Hillel II in 365 CE. Hillel the Elder's friendly adversary was Palestinean born Shammai, about whom little is known except that he was a builder, known for the strictness of his views. He was reputed to be dour, quick-tempered and impatient. Both lived during the reign of King Herod (37-4 BCE), an oppressive period in Jewish history because of the Roman occupation of Palestine. Shammai was concerned that if Jews had too much contact with the Romans, the Jewish community would be weakened, and this attitude was reflected in his strict interpretation of Jewish law. Hillel did not share Shammai's fear and therefore was more liberal in his view of law. Hillel was the more popular of the two scholars, and he was chosen by the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish court, to serve as its president. While http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/hillel.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:30:58

Hillel and Shammai

Hillel and Shammai themselves did not differ on a great many basic issues of Jewish law, their disciples were often in conflict. The Talmud records over 300 differences of opinion between Beit Hillel (the House of Hillel) and Beit Shammai (the House of Shammai). The Rabbis of the Talmud generally sided with the rulings of the School of Hillel, although the Sages believed that both views were valid. Sixteenth-century kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria (the “Ari”) said that not only are both the words of the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel enduring on the conceptual level, but each has its time and place on the pragmatic level as well. In our present world, we follow the rulings of the House of Hillel, but in the era of Messiah, the majority opinion will shift in favor of the House of Shammai, and their rulings will then be implemented. The Ari believed that in our present reality, where divine commandments must be imposed upon an imperfect world, the rulings of the House of Hillel represent the ultimate in conformity to the divine will, while the rulings of the House of Shammai represent an ideal that is too lofty for our present state (which is why we perceive them as “stricter” and more confining), and can only be realized on the conceptual level. In the era of Messiah, the situation will be reversed: a perfected world will embrace the more exacting application of Torah law expressed by the House of Shammai, while the Hillelian school of interpretation will endure only conceptually. Hillel's rulings were often based on concern for the welfare of the individual. For example with regard to the remarriage of an aguna, whose husband is not known with certainty to be alive or dead, the view of Hillel (and most of his colleagues) was that she can remarry even on the basis of indirect evidence of the husband's death. Bet Shammai required that witnesses come forth with direct testimony before she was permitted to remarry. Another example of his leniency as compared with Shammai involves converts; Hillel favored the admission of proselytes into Judaism even when they made unreasonable demands, such as one did by demanding that the whole Torah be taught to him quickly "while standing on one foot." Hillel accepted this person as eligible for conversion, whereas Shammai dismissed him as not serious about Judaism.

Sources: Judaism 101 Kolatch, Alfred J. The Second Jewish Book of Why. Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.; Middle Village, New York, 1985.

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Hillel and Shammai

"The Nullification of the Commandments."

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Idumea/Edom

Idumea/Edom

Idumea or Edom in Hebrew was the region south of Judea originally inhabited by the reputed descendents of Jacob's brother Esau. Edom was periodically subjected to Judea (under David & Solomon [10th c. BCE] & the Maccabees [2nd c. BCE]). Homeland of the house of Herod. There were no natural boundaries between Idumea & Judea, so the borders were always in flux. The distinction between Edomites & Jews was blurred by Johanan Hyrcanus' forced conversion of Idumea to Judaism [ca. 130 BCE]. During the 1st c. CE pressure by the Arab Nabateans pushed the territory of the Edomites to within 15 miles of Jerusalem. The region was bounded by the city state of Gaza on the west and the Dead Sea on the east. Herod's wilderness fortress of Masada that served as the final base of Jewish resistance to Roman rule lay within its borders. After 70 CE Idumea was detached from Judea until it was captured by modern Israel in the Six-Day War [1967].

Source: Into His Own

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Jerusalem Table of Contents

Jerusalem

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A Muslim Scholar Speaks on Islam & Jerusalem Absentees' Property (Compensation) Law, 5733-1973 Archaeology of Jerusalem Architecture of Jerusalem Armon Hanatziv Promenade Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel Eating in Jerusalem Ein Kerem History Israel Strengthens Jerusalem Jerusalem (Virtual Israel Experience) Jerusalem — An Introduction Jerusalem in the Bible Jerusalem Maps Jerusalem in Arab/Muslim History Jerusalem Quotes ❍ Prime Minister Ben-Gurion On Jerusalem The Jerusalem Syndrome Jerusalem’s Population Mayors of Jerusalem Places and Sites in Jerusalem The Proposed Division of Jerusalem Protection of Holy Places Law Synagogues of the World: Jerusalem Timeline for the History of Jerusalem

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Jerusalem Table of Contents ● ● ●

United Nations U.S. Policy on Jerusalem The Vatican and Jerusalem

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Jewish High Priests, from Herod to the Destruction of the Temple

Jewish High Priests, from Herod to the Destruction of the Temple

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Ananelus Aristobulus Jesus, son of Fabus Simon, son of Boethus Marthias, son of Theophilus Joazar, son of Boethus Eleazar, son of Boethus Jesus, son of Sic Ananus (Annas), son of Seth [NT] Ismael, son of Fabus Eleazar, son of Ananus Simon, son of Camithus Josephus Caiaphas, son in law of Ananus [NT] Jonathan, son of Ananus Theophilus, son of Ananus Simon, son of Boethus Matthias, son of Ananus Aljoneus Josephus, son of Camydus Ananias, son of Nebedus [Acts 24] Jonathas Ismael, son of Fabi Joeseph Cabi, son of Simon Ananus, son of Ananus Jesus, son of Damneus Jesus, son of Gamaliel Matthias, son of Theophilus

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Jewish High Priests, from Herod to the Destruction of the Temple ●

Phanias, son of Samuel

Source: Hugh Elton

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Jews of the Middle East

Jews of the Middle East by Loolwa Khazoom Upon examining the history and heritage of the Jewish people, we find that Judaism is deeply connected to the Middle East and North Africa: Sarah and Abraham came from Mesopotamia, the land that is today Iraq — the same land where the first yeshivas and the Babylonian Talmud were developed. The festival Purim celebrates the liberation of ancient Iranian (Persian) Jews, and Passover tells the story of ancient Egyptian Jews. Hebrew developed alongside other Semitic languages in the Middle East and North Africa and Jewish prayers and holiday cycles reflect the weather patterns of that region. (It was not, for example, meant to snow in the Sukkah.) Regardless of where Jews lived most recently, therefore, all Jews have roots in the Middle East and North Africa. Some communities, of course, have more recent ties to this region: Mizrahim and Sephardim, two distinct communities that are often confused with one another.

The Beginnings of the Jewish People Mizrahim are Jews who never left the Middle East and North Africa since the beginnings of the Jewish people 4,000 years ago. In 586 B.C.E., the Babylonian Empire (ancient Iraq) conquered Yehudah (Judah), the southern region of ancient Israel. Babylonians occupied the Land of Israel and exiled the Yehudim (Judeans, or Jews), as captives into Babylon. Some 50 years later, the Persian Empire (ancient Iran) conquered the Babylonian Empire and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/mejews.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:31:24

Jews of the Middle East

allowed the Jews to return home to the land of Israel. But, offered freedom under Persian rule and daunted by the task of rebuilding a society that lay in ruins, most Jews remained in Babylon. Over the next millennia, some Jews remained in today's Iraq and Iran, and some migrated to neighboring lands in the region (including today's Syria, Yemen, and Egypt), or emigrated to lands in Central and East Asia (including India, China, and Afghanistan). Sephardim are among the descendants of the line of Jews who chose to return and rebuild Israel after the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire. About half a millennium later, the Roman Empire conquered ancient Israel for the second time, massacring most of the nation and taking the bulk of the remainder as slaves to Rome. Once the Roman Empire crumbled, descendants of these captives migrated throughout the European continent. Many settled in Spain (Sepharad) and Portugal, where they thrived until the Spanish Inquisition and Expulsion of 1492 and the Portuguese Inquisition and Expulsion shortly thereafter. During these periods, Jews living in Christian countries faced discrimination and hardship. Some Jews who fled persecution in Europe settled throughout the Mediterranean regions of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, as well as Central and South America. Sephardim who fled to Ottoman-ruled Middle Eastern and North African countries merged with the Mizrahim, whose families had been living in the region for thousands of years. In the early 20th century, severe violence against Jews forced communities throughout the Middle Eastern region to flee once again, arriving as refugees predominantly in Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and the Americas. In Israel, Middle Eastern and North African Jews were the majority of the Jewish population for decades, with numbers as high as 70 percent of the Jewish population, until the mass Russian immigration of the 1990s. Mizrahi Jews are now half of the Jewish population in Israel.

Mizrahi Jews Around the World Throughout the rest of the world, Mizrahi Jews have a strong presence in metropolitan areas — Paris, London, Montreal, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Mexico City. Mizrahim and Sephardim share more than common history from the past five centuries. Mizrahi and Sephardic religious

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Jews of the Middle East

leaders traditionally have stressed hesed (compassion) over humra (severity, or strictness), following a more lenient interpretation of Jewish law. Despite such baseline commonalities, Middle Eastern and North African Mizrahim and Sephardim do retain distinct cultural traditions. Though Mizrahi and Sephardic prayer books are close in form and content, for example, they are not identical. Mizrahi prayers are usually sung in quarter tones, whereas Sephardic prayers have more of a Southern European feel. Traditionally, moreover, Sephardic prayers are often accompanied by a Western-style choir in the synagogue. Mizrahim traditionally spoke Judeo-Arabic — a language blending Hebrew and a local Arabic dialect. While a number of Sephardim in the Middle East and North Africa learned and spoke this language, they also spoke Ladino--a blend of Hebrew and Spanish. Having had no history in Spain or Portugal, Mizrahim generally did not speak Ladino. In certain areas, where the Sephardic immigration was weak, Sephardim assimilated into the predominantly Mizrahi communities, taking on all Mizrahi traditions and retaining just a hint of Sephardic heritage — such as Spanish-sounding names. In countries such as Morocco, however, Spanish and Portuguese Jews came in droves, and the Sephardic community set up its own synagogues and schools, remaining separate from the Mizrahi community.

Diversity Within the Communities Even within the Mizrahi and Sephardi communities, there were cultural differences from country to country. On Purim, Iraqi Jews had strolling musicians going from house to house and entertaining families (comparable to Christmas caroling), whereas Egyptian Jews closed off the Jewish quarter for a full-day festival (comparable to Mardi Gras). On Shabbat, Moroccan Jews prepared hamin (spicy meat stew), whereas Yemenite Jews prepared showeah (spicy roasted meat), among other foods. As Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews are a minority of Jews in North America, their heritage remains foreign to many North American Jews of Central and Eastern European heritage (known as Ashkenazim). Yet just as the world begins to embrace multi-culturalism, so too has the Jewish http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/mejews.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:31:24

Jews of the Middle East

community begun to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful cultural diversity that exists among its own people. Loolwa Khazzoom (http://www.loolwa.com) is the director of the Jewish MultiCultural Project (http://www.jmcponline.org) and editor of The Flying Camel: and Other Stories of Identity by Women of North African and MiddleEastern Jewish Heritage (Seal Press, Fall 2003). She has published Jewish multicultural articles in numerous periodicals, including The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Marie Claire, and Jewish Telegraph Agency.

Source: MyJewishLearning.com

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Joseph’s Tomb

Joseph’s Tomb

Joseph’s Tomb is located in the heart of Nablus, in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank. Conflicting views exist as to whether or not the patriarch Joseph was buried there; nevertheless, the tomb is recognized as a Jewish shrine, albeit a minor one. According to Jewish tradition, Joseph was buried in the biblical town of Shechem, which is near the present-day city of Nablus. Some archeologists believe that the site is only a few centuries old and may contain the remains of a Muslim sheikh named Yossef. Following the 1967 War, Israel regained access to the site and a small Jewish seminary was built there in the 1980's. The site was also used as a military outpost, and a number of soldiers were stationed there to protect the seminary students and the site itself. Nablus was returned to the Palestinians in 1995, but the Israelis retained control over the site. When violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians began in the West Bank in October 2000, six Palestinians and one Israeli were killed in fighting around the tomb. The Israeli army subsequently agreed to withdraw on October 7 and turn over control of the site to the Palestinian police, who were supposed to guard it. Instead, the Palestinian Police stood by as a mob ransacked the site, burned books and destroyed reading stands; the mob also burned down the army outpost. On that same day, an American-born rabbi, who taught at the seminary, was found slain outside Nablus. The Mayor of Nablus, Ghassan Shakaa, said that the site would be repaired. Workers were seen fixing the damage, however, they were also painting the top of the dome green - the color of Islam. Workers say that http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/joetomb.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:31:25

Joseph’s Tomb

they want to return the shrine to its former appearance before 1967, but news reports indicated the Palestinians were planning to build a mosque on the spot. For Israelis, the destruction of a Jewish shrine raised serious doubts as to whether the Palestinian Authority would protect religious sites belonging to Jews and Christians and guarantee access to them. Israel guarantees access to all holy places under their control according to 1967 Law for the protection of the holy places.

Sources: Cohen, Richard. "Joseph’s Tomb." Washington Post, (October 10, 2000). Greenburg, Joel. "Palestinians destroy the Israeli site that was the scene of many clashes." New York Times, (October 8, 2000). "Who is buried in embattled shrine: Joseph or Muslim sheikh? CNN, (October 11, 2000).

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Judges of Israel

Judges of Israel

Othniel

(3:7-11) 1st Judge after Joshua's death

Ehud

(3:12-30) Fought the Moabites

Shagmar

(3:31) Led Israelites against the Philistines

Deborah

(4-5) Prophetess, guided Barak to victory over the Canaanites, only female judge

Gideon

(6-8) Defeated Midianites with 300 men

Abimelech

(9) Only judge to win leadership through treachery

Tola

(10:1-5) Judged Israel for 23 years

Yair

(10: 1-5) Judged Israel for 22 years

Jepthah

(10:17-12:7) Defeated Ammonites

Ibzan

(12:8-15) Judged people for 7 years

Elon

(12:8-15) Judge for 10 years

Abdon

(12:8-15) Ruled for 8 years

Samson

(13-16) Fought Phillistines singlehandedly

Eli

(1 Samuel 1:9) Priest, ruled people from the sanctuary at Gilo

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Judges of Israel

Samuel

Last judge before the kingdom came under the rule of Saul

Source: The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Shengold, 1998.

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The Land of the Hebrews

The Land of the Hebrews

The stage on which Hebrew history takes place is a varied and a troubled place. Hebrew history, as told by the Hebrews, begins in Mesopotamia, in the cities of Ur in the south and Haran in the north. Mesopotamia was a rich agricultural area, fed by irrigation from the two rivers which give it its name: the Tigris and the Euphrates. Powerful city-states, such as Ur, rose up in this fertile area, and these city-states would eventually become the foundation of mighty empires, such as the Akkadian and Amorite empires. The Hebrews become a nation in another foreign land, Egypt. Rich with the water and soil carried by the Nile river, Egypt grew quickly into a great commercial and military power; the Egyptians created the longest continual culture outside of Asia. Punctuated by periods of decline and even foreign rule, the Egyptians had learned by the New Kingdom to ruthlessly control and subdue the foreign peoples surrounding their country. The Hebrews come into existence during this last powerful burst of power and creativity in Egypt. Between this period, that is, the origins in Mesopotamia and the creation of the new nation in Egypt, Hebrew history centered around Palestine. This area was the special area of Hebrew history, for it was this area that the Hebrew god promised to his chosen people. In the Hebrew world view, this was their land given to them by the one and only one god, and it was to this land that the Hebrews would migrate to out of Egypt. On this land the various tribes would fight difficult and often losing battles of occupation, set up a kingdom, and then the briefest of empires. What was this land? Its most salient geographical fact was that it lay between Mesopotamia and Egypt. It was the land bridge that carried all the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebland.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:31:28

The Land of the Hebrews

commercial goods between these two wealthy and powerful areas; it was also the highway on which armies would travel, whether Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, or Roman. More than anything else, this fact of geography determined the course of Hebrew history. Like a moon caught between the massive gravitational forces of two large planets, Palestine was in constant turmoil and under constant threat. Although the Hebrews called it the "land of milk and honey," Palestine (named after the group that dominated it for much of its early history, the Philistines) was in fact a harsh environment. It appeared to be the land of milk and honey only to a group of people that had been, after all, living in the desert for several generations. The land itself is composed of four geographically self-contained longitudinal strips; the self-containment of these areas always made it difficult throughout history to create a unified state out of the entire area. The richest agricultural areas are along the Mediterranean coast, but this area was dominated fist by Canaanites and then Philistines for a large part of Hebrew history. The Hebrews controlled this area for only a very brief time during the monarchy. Because they could not dislodge these people, the Hebrews settled in the second area, the central hill country, a backbone of mountains running from north to south between the coastal areas and the Jordan River valley. Dry and rocky, the central hills are a very difficult place to live, but the spectacle of Hebrew history mainly takes place in this hill country: Galilee, Samaria, Megiddo, Shechem, Judah, Jerusalem, Hebron, Beer-sheba. To the west of the hills is the Jordan River valley. In Hebrew, the word Jordan means "the descender," for it begins at Mount Hermon in the north at about 200 feet above sea level, and literally plummets to the Sea (actually a lake) of Galilee ten miles south at 700 feet below sea level, and from there another two hundred miles to the Dead or Salt Sea at 1300 feet below sea level (the lowest piece of land on earth and a mightily inhospitable place to live). Along this valley and around the Sea of Galilee are rich farmlands yielding grains and fruit as well as wealthy fishing in the river and the Sea of Galilee. To the west of the Jordan River valley are the Transjordan Highlands (about 1500 feet above sea level). The climate can be harsh, but several rivers allow for rich agriculture. This area was largely occupied by non-Hebrews; in the Transjordan Highlands were the kingdoms of Edom (south), Moab (center), and Ammon (center). For most of its history, these lands were out of Hebrew control.

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The Land of the Hebrews

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Maccabees

The Maccabees (166-129 BCE) By Mitchell Bard

The death of Alexander the Great of Greece in 323 BCE led to the breakup of the Greek empire as three of his generals fought for supremacy and divided the Middle East among themselves. Ptolemy secured control of Egypt and the Land of Israel. Seleucus grabbed Syria and Asia Minor, and Antigonus took Greece. Palestine was sandwiched between the two rivals and for the next 125 years Seleucids and Ptolemies battled for the prize. The former finally won in 198 B.C. when Antiochus III defeated the Egyptians and incorporated Judea into his empire. Initially, he continued to allow the Jews autonomy, but after a stinging defeat at the hands of the Romans he began a program of Hellenization that threatened to force the Jews to abandon their monotheism for the Greeks' paganism. Antiochus backed down in the face of Jewish opposition to his effort to introduce idols in their temples, but his son, Antiochus IV, who inherited the throne in 176 B.C. resumed his father's original policy without excepting the Jews. A brief Jewish rebellion only hardened his views and led him to outlaw central tenets of Judaism such as the Sabbath and circumcision, and defile the holy Temple by erecting an altar to the god Zeus, allowing the sacrifice of pigs, and opening the shrine to non-Jews.

The Jewish Hammer

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The Maccabees

Though many Jews had been seduced by the virtues of Hellenism, the extreme measures adopted by Antiochus helped unite the people. When a Greek official tried to force a priest named Mattathias to make a sacrifice to a pagan god, the Jew murdered the man. Predictably, Antiochus began reprisals, but in 167 BCE the Jews rose up behind Mattathias and his five sons and fought for their liberation. The family of Mattathias became known as the Maccabees, from the Hebrew word for "hammer," because they were said to strike hammer blows against their enemies. Jews refer to the Maccabees, but the family is more commonly known as the Hasmoneans. Like other rulers before him, Antiochus underestimated the will and strength of his Jewish adversaries and sent a small force to put down the rebellion. When that was annihilated, he led a more powerful army into battle only to be defeated. In 164 BCE, Jerusalem was recaptured by the Maccabees and the Temple purified, an event that gave birth to the holiday of Chanukah.

Jews Regain Their Independence It took more than two decades of fighting before the Maccabees forced the Seleucids to retreat from Palestine. By this time Antiochus had died and his successor agreed to the Jews' demand for independence. In the year 142 BCE, after more than 500 years of subjugation, the Jews were again masters of their own fate. When Mattathias died, the revolt was led by his son Judas, or Judah Maccabee, as he is often called. By the end of the war, Simon was the only one of the five sons of Mattathias to survive and he ushered in an 80-year period of Jewish independence in Judea, as the Land of Israel was now called. The kingdom regained boundaries not far short of Solomon's realm and Jewish life flourished. The Hasmoneans claimed not only the throne of Judah, but also the post of High Priest. This assertion of religious authority conflicted with the tradition of the priests coming from the descendants of Moses' brother Aaron and the tribe of Levi. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Maccabees.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:31:31

The Maccabees

It did not take long for rival factions to develop and threaten the unity of the kingdom. Ultimately, internal divisions and the appearance of yet another imperial power were to put an end to Jewish independence in the Land of Israel for nearly two centuries.

Source: Mitchell G. Bard, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict. 2nd Edition. NY: Alpha Books, 2003.

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The Hasmonean Dynasty

The Hasmonean Dynasty

LINEAGE

1. Mattathias ben Johanan [ ? - 165 BCE]

|

__________| __________ |

4. Simon Thassi

2. Judah Maccabee

[ruled 142-134 BCE]

[ ? - 160 BCE]

____ _ ________________ _ | Johanan Gaddi

|

________| ________ |

Mattathias

Judah

[ ?-134 BCE]

[ ?- 134 BCE]

____ _

_

________________

_

______

|

|

Eleazar Avaron

3. Jonathan Apphus [ruled 160142 BCE]

_ __________ | 5. Johanan Hyrcanus [ruled 134-104 BCE]

|

__________| __________ |

6. Aristobulus I (Judah)

Antigonus (Matthew)

7. Alexander Jannai (Jonathan)

[ruled 104-103 BCE]

[ ? - 104 BCE]

[ruled 103-76 BCE]

________ _

__________ |

_

________ |

_

|

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[ruled 76-67 BCE]

________| |

10. Hyrcanus II (Jonathan) [ruled 63-40 (d. 30) BCE]

=

9. Aristobulus II (Judah) [ruled 67-63 (d. 49) BCE]

| _ ________

8. Salome Alexandra

_____

The Hasmonean Dynasty

|

|

Alexandra [ ? - 28 BCE]

| 11. Antigonus (Matthew)

Alexander

=

[ ? - 49 BCE]

[ruled 40-37 BCE]

__________ |

|

Aristobulus III

________ | Mariamne [ ? - 29 BCE]

[ ? - 35 BCE]

[ruled 38-4 BCE]

________ | Aristobulus IV [ ca 31 - 7 BCE]

Key Leading Judean priest

Spouse of high priest

Lesser descendents

Spouse of priest's daughter

=

double line > married

1.

Numeral preceding name = order of succession

|

single line > descendents

Judah Click on highlighted name for biographical sketch

Source: Into His Own

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=

12. Herod (the Great)

|

_____ | Alexander [ ca 30 - 7 BCE]

Machaerus

Machaerus

Machaerus (Greek: "The Sword") was a Hasmonean stronghold in Perea built by Alexander Jannai. As the base of Aristobulus' II resistance, it was destroyed by Pompey [64 CE] but later rebuilt by Herod on a grander scale, complete with a lavish palace and enough supplies to withstand a five-year siege. It was located five miles west of the mineral springs of Callirohe. According to Josephus it was the place where Antipas imprisoned and executed Johanan the Baptizer [Antiquities 18.118-119].

Source: Into His Own

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Pre-1948 Maps Table of Contents

Pre-1948 Maps

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Areas of Palestine Under the Sykes-Picot Agreement Abraham Bar-Jacob's Map in the Amsterdam Haggadah (1695) The British Mandate Bernhard von Breydenbach's Map of the Holy Land (1486) Bünting's Cloverleaf Map (1581) Cook's Plan of Jerusalem (1924) The Crusader States in the Early 12th Century The Crusader States in the 12th-13th Centuries Diagram of the Land of Israel and Jerusalem by Jacob Auspitz (1817) Dismemberment of The Ottoman Empire Since 1863 The Eastern Roman Empire (395) Exile After the Destruction of the Second Temple The First Printed Maps, by Lucas Brandis (1475) The Fourth Crusade Hebron (1912) The Interwar Period in the Middle East Jaffa Environs (1912) Jerusalem (1883) Jerusalem (1900) Jerusalem (1912) The Jewish Diaspora in the 1st Cent. CE Jewish National Home Determined by San Remo Conference—1920 Jewish Settlement in Palestine (1881-1914)

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Pre-1948 Maps Table of Contents ● ●

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The Land of Israel (1 CE) "The Land of Israel, its Division and Borders," by Rabbi Eliahu of Vilna (1802?) The Middle East – 1930 The Ottoman Empire The Pale of Settlement Palestine at the Time of Christ Palestine and Transjordan After 1922 Pictorial Strip Map of the Land of Israel, by Rabbi Chaim Salomon Pinta of Zefat (1875) "Psalter Map" (1225) The Roman Empire (12 CE) The Roman Empire (150 CE) The Roman Empire (500 CE) The Second and Third Crusades Setting the Northern Border (1916-1923) Setting the Southern Border (1906) The Sykes-Picot Agreement The United Kingdom in the Middle East (1917-1971) Visscher Map of Jerusalem (1660s)

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The Monarchy

The Monarchy (~1050-920 BC)

After two hundred years of only marginal success in occupying and holding lands in the Land of Israel, the Hebrews united to form a single state under a single monarch. During the early centuries in what the Romans later called Palestine, the Hebrews were ruled loosely by "judges," who seemed to exercise a limited amount of judicial, legislative, and even military control over the otherwise independent Hebrew tribes. At times, various "deliverers" would lead some or all of the tribes against non-Hebrew oppressors or aggressors, and then fade again into history. Still, the tribes faced down the constant threat of invasion and oppression, and they still had not even remained firm in their Yahweh religion.

Saul The Hebrews, however, began to desire more permanent solutions to their political and military troubles. Looking to the Egyptian and Mesopotamian models of monarchy, particularly among their neighbors the Canaanites, Philistines, Moabites, and Ammonites, the Hebrew tribes began agitating for a king. As recounted in the I Samuel and II Samuel, the Hebrews approached Samuel, the "judge" of Israel, and demanded a king. The account makes clear that both Samuel and Yahweh considered the desire for a king to be an act of disobedience towards Yahweh; the Hebrew people, according to Samuel, would greatly suffer for this disobedience. However, Yahweh, as happened with Moses and all other deliverers in Hebrew history, selected a king for the Hebrews and Samuel formerly anointed this new king with oil to symbolize his election as monarch. This was Saul; according to Hebrew history, he was chosen by http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/monarchy.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:31:38

The Monarchy

popular acclaim by the Hebrew people (which seems likely among a group without a king). He was chosen for his height and his good looks, but soon proved to be ineffectual. Saul was not, however, a standard Near Eastern king; he seems to have been largely a military leader. There are no accounts of him exercising monarchical power outside of military exploits. The Hebrews, after all, were still tribal people, so the transition to a monarchy must have been slow. Saul was certainly not a wealthy monarch; the accounts of his kingship imply that he was no wealthier than any tribal leader. The Hebrew history of Saul, however, emphasizes his disobedience; because he repeatedly fails to carry out Yahweh's instructions as spoken by Samuel, Yahweh immediately chooses another king, David. Saul ruled as king only two years. While it's hard to assess Saul's monarchy, one very important pattern emerges. It's clear that the monarchy is viewed as a negative development in Hebrew history—this is amazing considering that the account is written after centuries of Israelite and Jewish monarchs. In the Hebrew view of history, it represents the Hebrew refusal to be ruled by god in favor of a human ruler. In the history of the settlement of Canaan, the book of Judges , when Gideon is offered the monarchy, he replies, "You have no king but Yahweh." So the institution of the monarchy creates a new conflict: the conflict between Yahweh and the Hebrew monarchs. This conflict first rears its head in the relationship of Samuel, as judge of Israel, and Saul, as king of Israel. Samuel speaks the words of Yahweh; Saul disobeys them. This conflict would form the basis of a massive change in the nature of Hebrew religion, the "prophetic revolution," which is played out against the backdrop of the incongruence between rule by Yahweh and rule by a king. The most far-reaching, however, of the innovations of the monarchy was the centralization of government in Jerusalem, which had been unimportant up until that point. Under Solomon, Jerusalem would become the cultic center of the Yahweh religion; sacrifice to Yahweh would now only be possible in Jerusalem's temple and no-where else.

David The most difficult king to asses in the Hebrew monarchy is the second one, David. Before Saul has even become king, Yahweh chooses another candidate on account of Saul's disobedience. He is a young and beautiful adolescent who becomes wildly popular in the court of Saul. Deeply suspicious, Saul at several times tries to kill the young David, but the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/monarchy.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:31:38

The Monarchy

youth flees into the hills. When Saul kills himself, David returns and becomes king. The account of his kingship, however, is deeply ambivalent. While David is clearly a hero during the reign of Saul, his character gradually changes as king, until he commits a crime greater than any Saul had committed: he murders a man in order to marry his wife. While the Hebrew judgment of David seems to be ambivalent, his accomplishments in his forty year reign are undeniable. After centuries of losing conflict, the Hebrews finally defeat the Philistines unambiguously under the brilliant military leadership of David. His military campaigns transform the new Hebrew kingdom into a Hebrew empire. An empire is a state that rules several more or less independent states. These independent states never fully integrate themselves into the larger state, but under the threat of military retaliation send tribute and labor to the king of the empire. Most importantly, David unites the tribes of Israel under an absolute monarchy. This monarchical government involved more than just military campaigns, but also included non-military affairs: building, legislation, judiciaries, etc. He also built up Jerusalem to look more like the capitals of other kings: rich, large, and opulently decorated. Centralized government, a standing army, and a wealthy capital do not come free; the Hebrews found themselves for the first time since the Egyptian period groaning under heavy taxes and the beginnings of forced labor.

Solomon It is the third and last king of a united Hebrew state, however, that turned the Hebrew monarchy into something comparable to the opulent monarchies of the Middle East and Egypt. The Hebrew account portrays a wise and shrewd king, the best of all the kings of Israel. The portrait, however, isn't completely positive and some troubling aspects emerge.

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The Monarchy

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The Monarchy

along the model of Mesopotamian kings. He built a fabulously wealthy capital in Jerusalem with a magnificent palace and an enormous temple attached to that palace (this would become the temple of Jerusalem). He took 700 wives and over 300 concubines, most of whom were nonHebrew (in the book of Judges , Yahweh forbids all male Hebrews to marry non-Hebrews). All of this building and wealth involved imported products: gold, copper, and cedar, which were unavailable in Israel. So Solomon taxed his people heavily, and what he couldn't pay for in taxes, he paid for in land and people. He gave twenty towns to foreign powers, and he paid Pheonicia in slave labor: every three months, 30,000 Hebrews had to perform slave labor for the King of Tyre. This, it would seem, is what Samuel meant when he said the people would pay dearly for having a king. While the author of II Samuel, the biblical account of Solomon's reign, portrays Solomon as a good king it's clear from the account that the Hebrews living under him did not think so. Groaning under the oppression of Solomon, the Hebrews became passionately discontent, so that upon Solomon's death (around 926 to 922 BC) the ten northern tribes revolted. Unwilling to be ruled by Solomon's son, Rehoboam, these tribes successfully seceded and established their own kingdom. The great empire of David and Solomon was gone never to be seen again; in its place were two mighty kingdoms which lost all the territory of David's once proud empire within one hundred years of Solomon's passing.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Two Kingdoms

The Two Kingdoms (~920-597 BC)

The experiment with the opulence and power of the great eastern kingdoms had ended in disaster for Israel. Solomon created the wealthiest and most powerful central government the Hebrews would ever see, but he did so at an impossibly high cost. Land was given away to pay for his extravagances, and people were sent into forced labor into Tyre in the north. When Solomon died (between 926-922 BC), the ten northern tribes refused to submit to his son, Rehoboam, and revolted. From this point on, there would be two kingdoms of Hebrews: in the north, Israel, and in the south, Judah. The Israelites formed their capital in the city of Samaria, and the Judaeans kept their capital in Jerusalem. These kingdoms remained separate states for over two hundred years. Their history is a litany of ineffective, disobedient, and corrupt kings. When the Hebrews had first asked for a king, in the book of Judges, they were told that only Yahweh was their king. When they approached Samuel, he told them the desire for a king was an act of disobedience. They would pay dearly if they established a monarchy. The history told in the Hebrew books, I and II Kings, bears out Samuel's warning. The Hebrew empire soon collapses; Moab soon successfully revolts against Judah, and Ammon successfully secedes from Israel. Within a century of Solomon's death, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah are tiny little states, each no bigger than Connecticut, on the larger map of the Middle East.

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The Two Kingdoms

The bad news, of course, is that tiny states never survived in that region. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Kingdoms1.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:31:41

The Two Kingdoms

Located directly between the Mesopotamian kingdoms in the northeast and the powerful state of Egypt in the southwest, Israel and Judah were of the utmost commercial and military importance to all these warring powers. Being small and weak was a liability, and Israel was the first to learn this lesson.

The Conquest of Israel In 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered Israel. The Assyrians were aggressive and effective; the history of their dominance over the Middle East is a history of constant warfare. In order to assure that conquered territories would remain pacified, the Assyrians would force many of the native inhabitants to relocate to other parts of their empire. They almost always chose the upper and more powerful classes, for they had no reason to fear the general mass of a population. They would then send Assyrians to relocate in the conquered territory. When they conquered Israel, they forced the ten tribes to scatter throughout their empire. For all practical purposes, you might consider this a proto-Diaspora ("diaspora"="scattering"), except that these Israelites disappear from history permanently; they are called "the ten lost tribes of Israel." Why this happened is difficult to assess. The Assyrians did not settle the Israelites in one place, but scattered them in small populations all over the Middle East. When the Babylonians later conquered Judah, they, too, relocate a massive amount of the population. However, they move that population to a single location so that the Jews can set up a separate community and still retain their religion and identity. The Israelites deported by the Assyrians, however, do not live in separate communities and soon drop their Yahweh religion and their Hebrew names and identities.

The Samaritans One other consequence of the Assyrian invasion of Israel involved the settling of Israel by Assyrians. This group settled in the capital of Israel, Samaria, and they took with them Assyrian gods and cultic practices. But the people of the Middle East were above everything else highly superstitious. Even the Hebrews didn't necessarily deny the existence or power of other peoples' gods—just in case. Conquering peoples constantly feared that the local gods would wreak vengeance on them. Therefore, they would adopt the local god or gods into their religion and cultic practices. Within a short time, the Assyrians in Samaria were worshipping http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Kingdoms1.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:31:41

The Two Kingdoms

Yahweh as well as their own gods; within a couple centuries, they would be worshipping Yahweh exclusively. Thus was formed the only major schism in the Yahweh religion: the schism between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans, who were Assyrian and therefore nonHebrew, adopted almost all of the Hebrew Torah and cultic practices; unlike the Jews, however, they believed that they could sacrifice to God outside of the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews frowned on the Samaritans, denying that a non-Hebrew had any right to be included among the chosen people and angered that the Samaritans would dare to sacrifice to Yahweh outside of Jerusalem. The Samaritan schism played a major role in the rhetoric of Jesus of Nazareth; and there are still Samaritans alive today around the city of Samaria.

The Conquest of Judah "There but for the grace of god go I." Certainly, the conquest of Israel scared the people and monarchs of Judah. They barely escaped the Assyrian menace, but Judah would be conquered by the Chaldeans about a century later. In 701, the Assyrian Sennacherib would gain territory from Judah, and the Jews would have suffered the same fate as the Israelites. But by 625 BC, the Babylonians, under Nabopolassar, would reassert control over Mesopotamia, and the Jewish king Josiah aggressively sought to extend his territory in the power vacuum that resulted. But Judah soon fell victim to the power struggles between Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. When Josiah's son, Jehoahaz, became king, the king of Egypt, Necho (put into power by the Assyrians), rushed into Judah and deposed him, and Judah became a tribute state of Egypt. When the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians in 605 BC, then Judah became a tribute state to Babylon. But when the Babylonians suffered a defeat in 601 BC, the king of Judah, Jehoiakim, defected to the Egyptians. So the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, raised an expedition to punish Judah in 597 BC. The new king of Judah, Jehoiachin, handed the city of Jerusalem over to Nebuchadnezzar, who then appointed a new king over Judah, Zedekiah. In line with Mesopotamian practice, Nebuchadnezzar deported around 10,000 Jews to his capital in Babylon; all the deportees were drawn from professionals, the wealthy, and craftsmen. Ordinary people were allowed to stay in Judah. This deportation was the beginning of the Exile. The story should have ended there. However, Zedekiah defected from the Babylonians one more time. Nebuchadnezzar responded with another expedition in 588 and conquered Jerusalem in 586. Nebuchadnezzar caught Zedekiah and forced him to watch the murder of his sons; then he http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Kingdoms1.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:31:41

The Two Kingdoms

blinded him and deported him to Babylon. Again, Nebuchadnezzr deported the prominent citizens, but the number was far smaller than in 597: somewhere between 832 and 1577 people were deported. The Hebrew kingdom, started with such promise and glory by David, was now at an end. It would never appear again, except for a brief time in the second century BC, and to the Jews forced to relocate and the Jews left to scratch out a living in their once proud kingdom, it seemed as if no Jewish nation would ever exist again. It also seemed as if the special bond that Yahweh had promised to the Hebrews, the covenant that the Hebrews would serve a special place in history, had been broken and forgotten by their god. This period of confusion and despair, a community together but homeless in the streets of Babylon, makes up one of the most significant historical periods in Jewish history: the Exile.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Kings of Israel

The Kings of Israel

The three original kings of Israel were Saul, David and Solomon. After the death of Solomon, the ten northern tribes revolted and established the kingdom of Israel in the north. The remaining tribes remained loyal to the son of Solomon and formed the Kingdom of Judah in the south.

Jeroboam

928-907

Nadab (son of Jeroboam)

907-906

Baasha

906-883

Elah (son of Baasha)

883-882

Zimri

882

Omri

882-871

Ahab (son of Omri)

871-851

Ahaziah (son of Ahab)

851-850

Jehoram/Joram (son of Ahab)

850-842

Jehu

842-814

Jehoahaz (son of Jehu)

814-800

Joash/Jehoash (son of Jehoahaz)

800-785

Jeroboam II (son of Jehoash)

785-749

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The Kings of Israel

Zechariah (son of Jeroboam)

749

Shallum

748

Menahem

748-737

Pekahiah (son of Menahem)

737-735

Pekah

735-731

Hoshea

731-722

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The Kings of Judah

The Kings of Judah

The three original kings of Israel were Saul, David and Solomon. After the death of Solomon, the ten northern tribes revolted and established the kingdom of Israel in the north. The remaining tribes remained loyal to the son of Solomon and formed the Kingdom of Judah in the south.

Rehoboam

928-911

Abijah/Abijam

911-908

Asa

908-867

Jehoshaphat

867-851

Jehoram/Joram

851-843

Ahaziah/Jehoahaz

843-842

Athaliah

842-836

Joash/Jehoash

836-799

Amaziah

799-786

Uzziah

786-758

Jotham

758-742

Ahaz

742-726

Hezekiah

726-697

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The Kings of Judah

Manasseh

697-642

Amon

642-640

Josiah

640-609

Jehoahaz

609-608

Jehoiakim/Eliakim

608-597

Jehoiachin

597

Zedekiah

597-587

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The Name “Palestine”

The Name “Palestine”

The term “Palestine” is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what is now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century A.D., the Romans crushed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), during which Jerusalem and Judea were regained. Three years later, in conformity with Roman custom, Jerusalem was “plowed up with a yoke of oxen” and renamed Aelia Capitolina. Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) was renamed Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. The Arabic word “Filastin” is derived from this Latin name.

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The Occupation of Canaan

The Occupation of Canaan (~1250-1050 BC)

When the Hebrews arrive at Canaan, the land promised to them millenia earlier when God told Abraham at Shechem that the land would belong to his descendants, they they begin the long, painful, and disappointing process of setting the land. There were, after all, people already living there. These people, the Canaanites, were a Semitic people speaking a language remarkably close to Hebrew. They were farmers, some were nomads, but they were also civilized. They used the great Mesopotamian cities as their model and had built modest imitations of them. They had also learned military technology and tactics from the Mesopotamians, as well as law. So the Hebrews, uncivilized, tribal, and nomadic, found themselves facing a formidable enemy. Even the accounts of this period in the Hebrew bible, the books of Joshua and Judges paint a pretty dreary picture of the occupation. After a few spectacular victories and some impressive territorial gains along the coastal plains, the Hebrews are eventually driven out of these areas and settle in the central hill country and a few places in the Jordan River valley. While they held their own against the Canaanites, a new player had arrived on the scene. These people, the Philistines, had rushed down from the north and overwhelmed everyone in their path. They had chariots and iron weapons and few could stand against these new technologies. So the Hebrews found themselves living in the worst areas of Canaan, spread thinly across the entire region. The balance of power constantly shifted as local kingdoms would grab and then lose territory, and the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebcanaan.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:31:49

The Occupation of Canaan

Hebrews would find themselves first under one and then another master.

The Judges and the Deliverers All during this period, the Hebrews rarely if ever organized into a single group. They were divided, rather, into separate tribes which administered themselves using tribal logic. There was no center of Yahweh worship (as there would be in later years), and no central government. There are, however, two types of figures that regularly dominate the landscape: the judges and the deliverers. The judges are a curious sort and we're not sure what the office involved. What we do know is that they exercised some authority over all the tribes of Israel and were generally recognized by all the tribes. While the translation of the term, "judges," seems to imply judicial activities, that is, deciding disputes between tribes, the word in Hebrew, "shopetim" (-im is the plural), implies legislative duties as well. So its possible that these "judges" exercised some kind of legislative and judicial control over matters involving all the tribes of Israel. Unlike the patriarchal age in which the "father" was the ruler, "judges" weren't gender specific. The most important "judge" of this period is, in fact, a woman: Deborah. The deliverers (in Hebrew, "moshia") were specifically military commanders. They organized intertribal armies and led them into battle against foreigners: Philistines, Canaanites, Moabites, Ammonites, etc. They arose in times of the greatest oppression of the Hebrews and, in the Hebrew account of them, specifically elected by Yahweh to free the Hebrews from oppression. Most of the names are familiar: Gideon, Samson, etc. The Hebrews themselves, however, do not seem to have settled comfortably into the Yahweh religion. According to Hebrew history, the Hebrews regularly abandon the Yahweh religion for local cults, particularly Canaanite cults. The Canaanite religion focussed on the god Baal, and the Hebrews frequently disassemble their Yahweh altars and build Baal altars. Those Hebrews that settle in the Canaanite cities literally disappear into the Canaanite religion; the Yahweh religion seems to have been largely maintained among the nomadic groups in the hill country. Uncertain of their future, wracked by constant warfare and even civil war, and barely holding on to their Yahweh religion, the Hebrews would eventually long for the identity and stability of a unified nation and a http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebcanaan.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:31:49

The Occupation of Canaan

monarchy. This act of disobedience towards Yahweh (according to the Hebrew account) would turn this scattered group of tribes into a briefly glorious kingdom and empire.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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Perea/Gilead

Perea/Gilead

Perea (from Greek: peran (iordanou) ["beyond Jordan"]) was a district on the east side of the Jordan river whose northern border was south of Pella in the Decapolis and whose southern border was guarded by the frontier fortress of Machaerus. In antiquity the region had belonged to Israel's bitter rivals, the kingdoms of Ammon and Moab, which were conquered by David [10th c. BCE]. After Solomon, during the time of the divided monarchy [9th-8th c. BCE], it was known as Gilead and was the homeland of Elijah. For about 600 years the region was lost to Israelite control, but was reconquered by Johanan Hyrcanus [ca. 120 BCE] and its inhabitants forcibly converted to Judaism. Augustus assigned Perea to Herod, who willed it to Antipas. This was the area of the activity of Johanan the Baptizer [according to John 1], including his imprisonment & execution at Machaerus [according to Josephus]. According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus took the Jordan valley road through Perea that ran from the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the ford at Jericho on his way to Jerusalem.

Source: Into His Own

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Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes By Mitchell G. Bard

Of the various factions that emerged under Hasmonean rule, three are of particular interest: the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.

The Pharisees The most important of the three were the Pharisees because they are the spiritual fathers of modern Judaism. Their main distinguishing characteristic was a belief in an Oral Law that God gave to Moses at Sinai along with the Torah. The Torah or Written Law was akin to the U.S. Constitution in the sense that it set down a series of laws that were open to interpretation. The Pharisees believed that God also gave Moses the knowledge of what these laws meant and how they should be applied. This oral tradition was codified and written down roughly three centuries later in what is known as the Talmud. The Pharisees also maintained that an afterlife existed and that God punished the wicked and rewarded the righteous in the world to come. They also believed in a messiah who would herald an era of world peace. Pharisees were in a sense blue-collar Jews who adhered to the tenets developed after the destruction of the Temple; that is, such things as individual prayer and assembly in synagogues.

The Sadducees The Sadducees were elitists who wanted to maintain the priestly caste, but they were also liberal in their willingness to incorporate Hellenism into their lives, something the Pharisees opposed. The Sadducees rejected the idea of the Oral http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/sadducees_pharisees_essenes.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:31:53

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes

Law and insisted on a literal interpretation of the Written Law; consequently, they did not believe in an afterlife, since it is not mentioned in the Torah. The main focus of Sadducee life was rituals associated with the Temple. The Sadducees disappeared around 70 A.D., after the destruction of the Second Temple (see below). None of the writings of the Sadducees survived, so the little we know about them comes from their Pharisaic opponents. These two "parties" served in the Great Sanhedrin, a kind of Jewish Supreme Court made up of 71 members whose responsibility was to interpret civil and religious laws.

The Dead Sea Sect A third faction, the Essenes, emerged out of disgust with the other two. This sect believed the others had corrupted the city and the Temple. They moved out of Jerusalem and lived a monastic life in the desert, adopting strict dietary laws and a commitment to celibacy. The Essenes are particularly interesting to scholars because they are believed to be an offshoot of the group that lived in Qumran, near the Dead Sea. In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd stumbled into a cave containing various ancient artifacts and jars containing manuscripts describing the beliefs of the sect and events of the time. The most important documents, often only parchment fragments that had to be meticulously restored, were the earliest known copies of the Old Testament. The similarity of the substance of the material found in the scrolls to that in the modern scriptures has confirmed the authenticity of the Bible used today.

Summary of Disputes Among the Three Parties Sect:

Sadducees

Pharisees

Social Class:

Priests, aristocrats

Common people

Figures of Authority:

Priests

"Disciples of the Wise"

"Teacher of Righteousness"

Attitude to Hellenism:

For

Selective

Against

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Essenes ?

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes

Varied? Attitide to Hasmoneans:

Varied? Opposed usurpation of Opposed usurpation priesthood by of monarchy? non-Zadokites

Personally opposed to Jonathan ("Wicked Priest")?

Theology: 1. Yes 2. No 3. None

1. Free will 2. Angels 3. Afterlife

1. Mostly 2. Yes 3. Resurrection

1. No 2. ? 3. Spiritual Survival (?)

Attitude to Bible: Literalist

Sophisticated scholarly interpretations

"Inspired Exegesis"

Attitude to Oral Torah:

No such thing

Equal to Written Torah

"Inspired Exegesis"

Practices:

Emphasis on priestly obligations (for priests)

Application of priestly laws to nonpriests (tithes and purity rules)

"Inspired Exegesis"

Luni-solar

Solar: 364-day year

?

Calendar:

Luni-solar (perhaps only under popular pressure?)

Source: Mitchell G. Bard, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflicts, NY: MacMillan, 1999. Chart courtesy of Prof. Eliezer Segal.

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The Philistines

The Philistines

The Philistines are referred to as the descendants of the Casluchim in Genesis 10:14 and Exodus 13:17. Known as a seafaring nation, the Philistines were a non-Semitic people who left Crete and arrived in Canaan at the beginning of the 12th century B.C.E. The Philistines inhabited the Mediterranean coast of Canaan during the period of the Book of Judges. They founded five principalities - Gaza, Asheklon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. Their highly-developed weapons brought a great threat to the Israelites. During the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites purposely took a southern route to circumvent them. The Philistines often battled against the Israelites. The first King of Israel, Saul, temporarily weakened them. Later, a little-known shepherd by the name of David (later second King of Israel) defeated them after his battle with the large Philistine by the name of Goliath. The Philistines were reduced to mainly commercial ventures rather than military ventures. Throughout the Books of Kings, different Jewish leaders fought the nation until the Assyrians completely defeated them. The Philistines then assimilated into the surrounding cultures and ceased to exist as a separate nation. The name Palestine originates from the Philistine inhabitance of the land of Judea. After the Romans conquered the region in the second century C. E., the Romans used the term Palestinia to refer to the region in an attempt to minimize Jewish attachment to the land. The Arabic use of the term Filastin is from this Latin root.

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The Philistines

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991. Navigating the Bible II

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The Return to Zion

The Return to Zion (538-142 BCE)

Following a decree by the Persian King Cyrus, conqueror of the Babylonian empire (538 BCE), some 50,000 Jews set out on the First Return to the Land of Israel, led by Zerubabel, a descendant of the House of David. Less than a century later, the Second Return was led by Ezra the Scribe. Over the next four centuries, the Jews knew varying degrees of selfrule under Persian (538-333 BCE) and later Hellenistic (Ptolemaic and Seleucid) overlordship (332-142 BCE). The repatriation of the Jews under Ezra's inspired leadership, construction of the Second Temple on the site of the First Temple, refortification of Jerusalem's walls and establishment of the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly) as the supreme religious and judicial body of the Jewish people marked the beginning of the Second Jewish Commonwealth (Second Temple period). Within the confines of the Persian Empire, Judah was a nation centered in Jerusalem whose leadership was entrusted to the high priest and council of elders. As part of the ancient world conquered by Alexander the Great of Greece (332 BCE), the Land remained a Jewish theocracy under Syrian-based Seleucid rulers. When the Jews were prohibited from practicing Judaism and their Temple was desecrated as part of an effort to impose Greekoriented culture and customs on the entire population, the Jews rose in revolt (166 BCE). First led by Mattathias of the priestly Hasmonean family and then by his son Judah the Maccabee, the Jews subsequently entered Jerusalem and purified the Temple (164 BCE), events commemorated each

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The Return to Zion

year by the festival of Hanukkah.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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The Sanhedrin

The Sanhedrin By Shira Schoenberg

The ancient Jewish court system was called the Sanhedrin. The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme religious body in Palestine during the time of the Holy Temple. There were also smaller religious Sanhedrins in every town in Palestine, as well as a civil political-democratic Sanhedrin. These Sanhedrins existed until the abolishment of the rabbinic patriarchate in about 425 C.E. The earliest record of a Sanhedrin is by Josephus who wrote of a political Sanhedrin convened by the Romans in 57 B.C.E. Hellenistic sources generally depict the Sanhedrin as a political and judicial council headed by the country’s ruler. Tannaitic sources describe the Great Sanhedrin as a religious assembly of 71 sages who met in the Chamber of Hewn Stones in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Great Sanhedrin met daily during the daytime, and did not meet on the Sabbath, festivals or festival eves. It was the final authority on Jewish law and any scholar who went against its decisions was put to death as a zaken mamre (rebellious elder). The Sanhedrin was led by a president called the nasi (lit. "prince") and a vice president called the av bet din (lit. "father of the court"). The other 69 sages sat in a semicircle facing the leaders. It is unclear whether the leaders included the high priest. The Sanhedrin judged accused lawbreakers, but could not initiate arrests. It required a minimum of two witnesses to convict a suspect. There were no attorneys. Instead, the accusing witness stated the offense in the presence http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Sanhedrin.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:31:59

The Sanhedrin

of the accused and the accused could call witnesses on his own behalf. The court questioned the accused, the accusers and the defense witnesses. The Great Sanhedrin dealt with religious and ritualistic Temple matters, criminal matters appertaining to the secular court, proceedings in connection with the discovery of a corpse, trials of adulterous wives, tithes, preparation of Torah Scrolls for the king and the Temple, drawing up the calendar and the solving of difficulties relating to ritual law. In about 30 C.E., the Great Sanhedrin lost its authority to inflict capital punishment. After the Temple was destroyed, so was the Great Sanhedrin. A Sanhedrin in Yavneh took over many of its functions, under the authority of Rabban Gamliel. The rabbis in the Sanhedrin served as judges and attracted students who came to learn their oral traditions and scriptural interpretations. From Yavneh, the Sanhedrin moved to different cities in the Galilee, eventually ending up in Tiberias. Local Sanhedrins consisted of different numbers of sages, depending on the nature of the offenses it dealt with. For example, only a Sanhedrin of 71 could judge a whole tribe, a false prophet or the high priest. There were Sanhedrins of 23 for capital cases and of three scholars to deal with civil or lesser criminal cases. Sources: Blackman, Philip. Introduction to Tractate Sanhedrin of the Mishnah. New York: The Judaica Press, 1963. Dimont, Max. Jews, Jews, God and History. New York: The New American Library, 1962. Encyclopedia Judaica "Sanhedrin". Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1971. Kung, Hans. Judaism. New York: Crossroad, 1992. Seltzer, Robert M. Jewish People, Jewish Thought. New York: Macmillian Publishing Co, 1980.

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The Seven Species

The Seven Species

"A land of wheat, and barley, and vines; of fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey." The Seven Species may no longer dominate the diet of modern Israelis but the biblical seven species still characterize the local landscape. They were the staple foods consumed by the Jewish people in the Land of Israel during biblical times. In modern Israel – with dozens of species in a diverse diet – only wheat remains a staple. However, the seven species dominate large areas of the countryside, accentuating a sense of continuity between the biblical Land of Israel and the modern state. Olives: More than any other fruit, the olive symbolizes this continuity. The gnarled barks of the ancient olive trees on Israel’s terraced hillsides seem to exude a wisdom accumulated from witnessing centuries of human history. In ancient times, olive oil was used to cook, to light lamps and as soap and skin conditioner. Today, the olive remains a popular food and its golden oil is a coveted commodity. Moreover, olive oil has become more popular since the discovery that it lowers cholesterol. Olive wood, with light and dark grains, is popular for small decorative items, while the olive branch persists as a symbol of peace. Grapes: During the parched heat of the late summer, the grapevines lend the countryside a welcome rich green hue as the vines bear their fruit. Wine has always been an integral part of the rituals of Judaism, as in the "kiddush" blessing on Sabbath and holidays. In ancient times, grapes were also used for seasoning and in vinegars. Today wine is a major industry, and over the past decade high-quality kosher wines have become widespread while nearly 100 "boutique" wineries have sprung up. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/species.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:32:01

The Seven Species

Moreover, because grapes, especially dark grapes, are rich in iron, the fruit is recommended to ward off heart disease. Stuffed with meat and rice, the leaves of the vine make a popular dish. Wheat: With a cool and wet winter followed by a dry spring, Israel’s climate is ideal for wheat growing. Today the northern Negev is the bread basket of Israel. In winter the fields around Kiryat Gat are a rich green, turning a glorious golden color in the late spring before the harvest begins during the festival of Shavuot. In biblical times as today, bread was the staple of the local diet. The modern Israeli supermarket bulges with a choice of local breads like halla and pita as well as imported concepts like the baguette and standard sliced loaf. Barley: In biblical times barley was the poor-man’s staple - eaten as porridge and barley cakes. Cattle and other livestock were also fed barley. Today, the grain has become a marginal culinary ingredient used in soups and stews. Barley’s most common modern use in Israel is as the basic ingredient for beer, sold locally in bottles and cans and served in pubs from the barrel. Figs: The fig tree — with its distinctive leaves, used as clothes by Adam and Eve - is a ubiquitous part of the Israeli landscape. In biblical times the fig was eaten fresh or as a seasoning, in addition to being used to make honey and alcohol. The fig itself, ripe in midsummer, is today an expensive delicacy. In fact it is best eaten straight from the tree in the late afternoon after being baked naturally by the sun. Dried figs covered in sugar are also a popular item. Dates: Date palms are only found in the hotter inland rift valley. In biblical times they grew in the Jordan Valley, but with modern irrigation techniques the palms have also taken root near the Dead Sea and further south in the Arava. In the biblical era dates were made into honey, and many believe the notion of the "land flowing with milk and honey" actually referred to date honey. Today, dates are a popular sweet snack before or after meals and fetch premium prices for export to Europe. Pomegranates: Pomegranate trees are prevalent in Israeli gardens. The tree with its rich green leaves and red flowers becomes heavy with fruit for Rosh Hashanah (New Year) The plump red fruits are often plucked to decorate the succa during the feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles). In biblical times the pomegranate was used for making wine and seasonings in addition to its function as a dye. Then, too, it was appreciated for its http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/species.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:32:01

The Seven Species

aesthetic qualities, particularly the crown near the stem. Tradition has it that a pomegranate has 613 seeds to represent the 613 commandments in the Torah (five books of Moses). Today the pomegranate is traditionally eaten on the New Year although rarely otherwise, and occasionally used for flavoring in cooking.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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The Temple

The Temple

The crowning achievement of King Solomon's reign was the erection of a magnificent Temple (Beit ha-Midkash) in Jerusalem. His father, King David, had wanted to build a great Temple for God a generation earlier, as a permanent resting place for the Ark containing the Ten Commandments. A divine edict, however, had forbidden him from doing so. "You will not build a house for My name," God said to him, "for you are a man of battles and have shed blood" (I Chronicles 28:3).

The Bible's description of Solomon's Temple suggests that the inside ceiling was was 180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet high. The highest http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Temple.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:32:04

The Temple

point on the Temple that King Solomon built was actually 120 cubits tall (about 20 stories or about 207 feet). According to the Tanach (II Chronicles): 3:3 The length by cubits after the ancient measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits. 3:4 And the porch that was before the house, the length of it, according to the breadth of the house, was twenty cubits, and the height a hundred and twenty; and he overlaid it within with pure gold. He spares no expense in the building's creation. He orders vast quantities of cedar from King Hiram of Tyre (I Kings 5:20-25), has huge blocks of the choicest stone quarried, and commands that the building's foundation be laid with hewn stone. To complete the massive project, he imposes forced labor on all his subjects, drafting people for work shifts lasting a month at a time. Some 3,300 officials are appointed to oversee the Temple's erection (5:27-30). Solomon assumes such heavy debts in building the Temple that he is forced to pay off King Hiram with twenty towns in the Galilee (I Kings 9:11). When the Temple is completed, Solomon inaugurates it with prayer and sacrifice, and even invites non-Jews to come and pray there. He urges God to pay particular heed to their prayers: "Thus all the peoples of the earth will know Your name and revere You, as does Your people Israel; and they will recognize that Your name is attached to this House that I have built" (I Kings 8:43). Until the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians some four hundred years later, in 586 B.C.E., sacrifice was the predominant mode of divine service there. Seventy years later, a second Temple was built on the same site, and sacrifices again resumed. During the first century B.C.E., Herod greatly enlarged and expanded this Temple. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., after the failure of the Great Revolt. As glorious and elaborate as the Temple was, its most important room contained almost no furniture at all. Known as the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Kodashim), it housed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, the tablets disappeared when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple, and during the Second Temple era, the Holy of Holies was a small, entirely bare room. Only once a year, on Yom Kippur, the High http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Temple.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:32:04

The Temple

Priest would enter this room and pray to God on Israel's behalf. A remarkable monologue by a Hasidic rabbi in the Yiddish play The Dybbuk conveys a sense of what the Jewish throngs worshiping at the Temple must have experienced during this ceremony: God's world is great and holy. The holiest land in the world is the land of Israel. In the land of Israel the holiest city is Jerusalem. In Jerusalem the holiest place was the Temple, and in the Temple the holiest spot was the Holy of Holies.... There are seventy peoples in the world. The holiest among these is the people of Israel. The holiest of the people of Israel is the tribe of Levi. In the tribe of Levi the holiest are the priests. Among the priests, the holiest was the High Priest.... There are 354 days in the [lunar] year. Among these, the holidays are holy. Higher than these is the holiness of the Sabbath. Among Sabbaths, the holiest is the Day of Atonement, the Sabbath of Sabbaths.... There are seventy languages in the world. The holiest is Hebrew. Holier than all else in this language is the holy Torah, and in the Torah the holiest part is the Ten Commandments. In the Ten Commandments the holiest of all words is the name of God.... And once during the year, at a certain hour, these four supreme sanctities of the world were joined with one another. That was on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and there utter the name of God. And because this hour was beyond measure holy and awesome, it was the time of utmost peril not only for the High Priest but for the whole of Israel. For if in this hour there had, God forbid, entered the mind of the High Priest a false or sinful thought, the entire world would have been destroyed. To this day, traditional Jews pray three times a day for the Temple's restoration. During the centuries the Muslims controlled Palestine, two http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Temple.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:32:04

The Temple

mosques were built on the site of the Jewish Temple. (This was no coincidence; it is a common Islamic custom to build mosques on the sites of other people's holy places.) Since any attempt to level these mosques would lead to an international Muslim holy war (jihad) against Israel, the Temple cannot be rebuilt in the foreseeable future.

Source: Joseph Telushkin. Jewish Literacy. NY: William Morrow and Co., 1991. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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Timeline for the History of Judaism

Timeline for the History of Judaism

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The Dawn of “History” ca. 3000 B.C.E. Context of Ancient Israelite Religion (ca. 2000-587 B.C.E.) Judaism After the Babylonian Exile (ca. 538 B.C.E.-70 CE) Rule of Rome (ca. 146 B.C.E.-400 C.E.) Early Christian Period of Development (30-311 C.E.) Rabbinic Jewish Period of Talmud Development (70-400/600 C.E.) Byzantine Rule (313-636) Consolidation & Dominance of Classical Christianity (325-590) “Medieval” Period in the West (ca. 600-1500) Reception & Classical Development of Muhammad's Islamic Message (5701258) Crusades (1095-1258) Further Transitions and Rebuilding of Political Islam (1258-1500) Mamluk Rule (1291-1516) Reformation and Post-Reformation Christian Period (1517-Present - Here to 1569) Dominance of Ottoman Muslim Empire in Turkey (1500-1920) Jewish Modern and Contemporary Periods (ca. 1700-Present - 1921) Islamic Unrest and Realignment in the Middle East (ca. 1914-Present - Here to 1918) British Rule in Palestine (1918-47) Modern Israel & the Diaspora (1947-2004) Timeline for the History of Jerusalem (4500 B.C.E.-Present)

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Timeline for the History of Judaism

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Timeline for the History of Jerusalem

Timeline for the History of Jerusalem Chalcolithic Period (4500-3200 BCE) 3500 BCE: First Settlement.

Early Bronze Age (3200-2220 BCE) 2500 BCE: First Houses.

Middle Bronze Age (2220-1550 BCE) 1800 BCE: First City Wall.

Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BCE) 1400 BCE: Mention of Jerusalem in cuneiform Amarna letters.

Iron Age I (1200-1000 BCE) Jerusalem is a Canaanite (Jebusite) city.

Iron Age II (1000-539 BCE) 1000 BCE: King David conquers Jerusalem. 960 BCE: King Solomon builds First Temple.

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Timeline for the History of Jerusalem

721 BCE: Assyrians conquer Samaria. Refugees flee to Jerusalem. City expands onto western hill. 701 BCE: Assyrian ruler Sennacherib beseiges Jerusalem. 586 BCE: Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem.

Persian Period (539-322 BCE) 539 BCE: Persian ruler Cyrus the Great conquers Babylonian Empire. 516 BCE: Second Temple built. 445-425 BCE: Nehemiah rebuilds walls. City confined to eastern hill. 332 BCE: Alexander the Great conquers Judaea.

Hellenistic Period (332-141 BCE) Ptolemaic and Seleucid rule.

Hasmonean Period (141-37 BCE) 141 BCE: Hasmonean Dynasty begins. Jerusalem again expands into the western hill. 63 BCE: Roman General Pompey captures Jerusalem.

Herodian Period (37BCE-70 CE) 37 BCE: Herod rebuilds Second Temple. 30 CE: Jesus crucified. 70 CE: Romans destroy Jerusalem.

Roman Period (70-324 CE) 135 CE: Jerusalem rebuilt as a Roman city. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/jerutime.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:32:08

Timeline for the History of Jerusalem

Byzantine Period (324-638 CE) 335 CE: Church of the Holy Sepulchre built. 614 CE: Persians capture Jerusalem. 629 CE: Byzantine Christians recapture Jerusalem.

First Muslim Period (638-1099 CE) 638 CE: Caliph Omar enters Jerusalem. 661-750 CE: Omayyad Dynasty. 691 CE: Dome of the Rock built. 750-974 CE: Abassid Dynasty.

Crusader Period (1099-1187 CE) 1099 CE: Crusaders capture Jerusalem.

Ayyubid Period (1187-1250 CE) 1187 CE: Saladin captures Jerusalem. 1229-1244 CE: Crusaders briefly recapture Jerusalem twice.

Mamluk Period (1250-1516 CE) 1250 CE: Muslim caliph dismantles walls of Jerusalem. Population declines.

Ottoman Period (1516-1917 CE) 1517 CE: Ottomans capture Jerusalem.

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Timeline for the History of Jerusalem

1538-1541 CE: Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem.

Modern Period (1917 CE-present) 1917: British capture Jerusalem. 1948: State of Israel established. Jerusalem divided. 1967: Israel captures Old City and reunifies Jerusalem.

Source: "Chronological Reference Points." Middle East Insight, JanuaryFebruary 1999.

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The Twelve Tribes of Israel

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

Jacob fathered 12 sons. They are the ancestors of the tribes of Israel, and the ones for whom the tribes are named. Each occupied a separate territory (except the tribe of Levi, which was set apart to serve in the Holy Temple).

Asher Benjamin Dan Gad Issachar Joseph* Judah Levi Naphtali Reuben Simeon Zebulun (Around the Tabernacle and in order of their marches) The Eastern Tribes Judah Issachar http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/tribes.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:32:09

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

Zebulun The Southern Tribes Reuben Simeon Gad The Western Tribes Ephraim Manasseh Benjamin The Northern Tribes Dan Asher Naphtali *The sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Menasseh, were also given the status of independent tribes.

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Tyre

Tyre

Tyre is a Phoenician city about 30 miles north of Ptolemaïs, built on a rocky island that Alexander the Great connected to the mainland with a half-mile causeway [333 BCE]. As the first Canaanite city to attain independence from Egypt [12th c. BCE] it took the lead in the Phoenician colonization of the Mediterranean including the founding of Carthage. Tyrian purple dye from shellfish was so-highly prized in ancient times that it gave these seafaring traders their name: Phoenician ["purple people"]. Hiram [mid-10th c. BCE] built a breakwater that gave Tyre the best harbor on the eastern Mediterranean coast & established a mutually beneficial trade-alliance with David and Solomon. Hiram supplied the craftsmen and cedar wood for the temple at Jerusalem and other building projects of Solomon. But a century later the marriage of Jezebel, the daughter of Eshba'al of Tyre, to Ahab provoked a cultural crisis in Israel that challenged Mosaic tradition and led Elijah to launch a holy war. Tyre's island location made it hard for ancient empires to subdue, until Alexander conquered it [333 BCE]. Under Hellenistic and Roman empires, Tyre continued to flourish. Tyrian silver coinage was so pure that it was the only currency accepted in the temple at Jerusalem. According to the synoptic gospels [Mark 7], Jesus traveled through the region around Tyre & found supporters among its inhabitants. According to Acts 21, Paul landed there & stayed with local Christians on his way to Jerusalem.

Source: Into His Own

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Tyre

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Via Maris

Via Maris By Avi Hein

One of the most important trade routes in the Middle East during ancient times was the Via Maris. The Latin term, meaning "Way of the Sea" is referenced in Isaiah 8:23 in the Tanakh (in the Christian Old Testament it is Isaiah 9:1) as "Derech HaYam" or "Way of the Sea." The Latin name comes from the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the New Testament, in Matthew 4:15. The term "Via Maris" comes from the Romans and hence the terminology "Via Maris" tends to be an exclusively Christian reference to the Sea Road. Other names for the Derech HaYam/ Via Maris include "Coastal Road" and "Way of the Philistines." From the coast to Damascus, the route is called the Trunk Road. The Via Maris travels and is also known as the International Coastal Highway. The International Coastal Highway is still a major route in modern-day Israel.

The "Way of the Sea" is one of three major trade routes in ancient Israel – the Via Maris, Ridge Route, and the King's Highway. It is situated from the Galilee to the North to Samaria to the South, running through the Jezreel Valley. At the Philistine Plain, the Way broke into two branches, one on the coast and one inland (through the Jezreel Valley, the Sea of Galilee, and Dan), which unites at Megiddo ("Armageddon"). The location of Megiddo vis a vis the Via Maris explains why Megiddo was a very important route for travel and trading city in ancient Israel. The Way of the Sea connected the major

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Via Maris

routes from the Fertile Cresent to Mesopotamia (from Egypt to modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria). The road was the main thoroughfare running north/south from the Sinai along the coastal plain through the Jezreel valley, Beit Shean and on until Damascus Throughout the centuries, once the Jews were exiled from Israel, the Jezreel Valley, in which the route traverses, became abandoned and the area became an infested swamp. Zionist pioneers, however, drained the swamp from the time of the first land acquisition in 1921, and the valley has been transformed into a fertile, fruit-bearing plain.

Source: Way of the Sea, WZO, Wikipedia, BibArch Maps Courtesy of BibArch and the WZO

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The Virtual Jewish History Tour

The Virtual Jewish History Tour

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Africa Asia Australia & New Zealand The Caribbean Eastern Europe Latin America Middle East Russia and the Former Soviet Union The United States Western Europe

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Weights, Measures, and Coins: From the Bible Through the Talmudic Period

Weights, Measures, and Coins From the Bible Through the Talmudic Period

Weights in the Bible Seven weights related to metal (thus creating "coins") are mentioned in the Bible: talent, mina, shekel, beka, gerah, pim, and kesitah. A scale of the relationships between the first five weights mentioned can be established on the basis of the Bible and other sources; the absolute and relative value of the pim can be determined from archaeological finds. The seventh weight, the kesitah (Genesis 33:19; Joshua 24:32; Job 42:11), seems to be an archaic weight and the origin of its name and its metrological value are not known. We can figure out the interrelationships of the three most important weights, the talent, shekel, and gerah. The talent (kikkar), was the largest unit of weight in the Bible, and was already known by the same name in Ugaritic. In Ugaritic it was pronounced kakaru, as has been shown from Akkadian documents from Ugarit and Alalakh. The relation between the talent and the shekel is defined in Exodus 38:25–26. The half shekel brought by 603,550 men amounted to 100 talents and 1,775 shekels. Thus a talent was 3,000 shekels. This system of dividing the talent into 3,000 shekels differed from the Mesopotamian system which divides the talent into 3,600 parts, and was the same as the Ugaritic system where the talent was also divided into 3,000 shekels. From this it follows that the biblical division is based upon an ancient Canaanite tradition. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/weightsandmeasures.html (1 of 12)2/11/2004 13:32:22

Weights, Measures, and Coins: From the Bible Through the Talmudic Period

The major weight of metal mentioned in the Bible is the shekel, as its name, which means simply "weight," testifies. Since the shekel was the definite weight, an expression such as "1,000 silver" (Genesis 20:16) can be explained as 1,000 shekels of silver, and the name of the weight is omitted since it is self-explanatory. Abbreviations like these are also found in other Semitic languages. The fundamental nature of the shekel can also be seen in the fact that all weights which the Bible explains are explained only in terms of the shekel. The shekel was used as a bartering material, not a minted coin. Jeremiah bought a plot of land and weighed his payment (silver) on scales (Jeremiah 32:9). Subdivisions of the shekel were the beka or half-shekel (Genesis 24:22; Exodus 38:26) and the gerah, a 20th of the shekel (Exodus 30:13). The gerah is known in Akkadian as gir–. The basic meaning of the Akkadian word is a grain of carob seed. The shekel, in turn, was a 50th part of the maneh, and the maneh was a 60th part of the talent. The talent was, of course, equal to 3,000 shekels. The maneh and the talent, however, were only units of account and remained so during the Second Temple period when the shekel became a coin denomination. Scales and weights of the shekel unit have been found in excavations as have gold, silver, and bronze ingots.

A Simple Table: 1 talent=60 maneh=3,000 shekels 1 maneh=50 shekels=100 beka=1,000 gerahs In short, all weights fit together nicely….if we only knew how much a shekel weighed… In excavations carried out in Palestine some of the weights which have been found have their weight marked on them, but most are without any notation. The shape of the weights, for the most part, is semicircular (dome-shaped). There are also some cast metal weights that are rectangular and cube-shaped, and some that are oval or in the shape of animals. Most of the weights found in Palestine are from the end of the period of the monarchy (the seventh to sixth centuries BCE).

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Weights, Measures, and Coins: From the Bible Through the Talmudic Period

Very few weights and inscriptions with the word shekel written explicitly have been found in strata from the Israelite period. A bronze weight in the shape of a turtle was found in the coastal plain; on its reverse side it bears the inscription "one-quarter shekel." And in fact, a weight of this sort (onequarter shekel) is mentioned in I Samuel 9:8. That quarter shekel weighed 2.63 grams. That would make the shekel 10.52 grams. Another bronze weight from Samaria, also in the shape of a turtle, bears the inscription "five", and this has been interpreted to mean five gerahs. Since there are twenty gerahs in a shekel, that would make that weight one-quarter of a shekel as well. Its weight is 2.49 grams, making a shekel 9.56 grams. Another weight from Samaria is marked on one side "one-quarter shekel," and its weight is 2.54 grams. That would make the shekel 10.16 grams. In establishing the value of the shekel there is an additional complication in that the Bible mentions at least three kinds of shekels: in Genesis 23:16, a shekel of silver "at the going merchant's rate [over la-socher]; in Exodus 30:13, "shekel by the sanctuary weight [ha-kodesh]"; and in II Samuel 14:26, "shekels by the king's stone [b'even ha-melech]," that is, shekels stamped by the royal treasury as proof that they are perfect. It cannot be determined whether these shekels were equivalent in value, but on the basis of evidence from external sources, it appears that there were differences between them. The mina (Hebrew: Maneh) which designates a weight of approximately 50 shekels, is found in the Bible primarily in the late books (Ezekiel. 45:12; Ezra 2:69; Nehemiah. 7:70, 71). In the period preceding the destruction of the First Temple, the mina is mentioned only once, in the verse about Solomon's shields (I Kings 10:17). From this it is reasonable to assume that in ancient times in Israel reckoning was done in shekels and talents only, and the mina was not used except in unusual situations. It appears that this practice too had its roots in an ancient Canaanite tradition, for in Ugaritic writings many calculations are found involving shekels and talents and very few involving the mina. The value of the mina is defined in Ezekiel 45:12. From this verse it follows that the mina is equivalent to 60 shekels like the Akkadian man–. The beka is mentioned twice in the Bible (Gen. 24:22; Ex. 38:26) and its value is explicitly determined as one-half a shekel. Its name is derived http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/weightsandmeasures.html (3 of 12)2/11/2004 13:32:22

Weights, Measures, and Coins: From the Bible Through the Talmudic Period

from the root bq, "to break, to divide," and its basic meaning is "a part." In addition to being divided into the beka and gerah, the shekel was also divided into a fourth and a third (I Sam. 9:8; Neh. 10:33). There is support for this division both inside and outside Palestine. From Assyrian documents found at Calah it is evident that the shekel was very often divided there into many more subunits, but there is no proof that this was so in Israel as well. Also mentioned in the Bible is the peres (Dan. 5:25, 28). The peres is also mentioned in the Mishnah (Pe'ah 8:5) and its value there is half a zuz.

Coins In the Talmud The currency system most commonly found in Talmudic literature was based on the Roman monetary system both in terminology and metrological structure. Its standard was linked to that of the Tyrian tetradrachm (sela). There were 1,500 sela'im in a talent. The now-famous shekel, one-half sela, was no longer the main coin of measurement even though 3,000 of them still made a talent. The smallest known coin was the perutah. There were four perutot in a dinar (also called a "zuz"). Although our sages disagreed about the value of certain small coins, the Talmudic monetary system appears to have been as follows: 1 talent=60 mina=120 tartimar=750 uncia=1,500 sela=3,000 shekel== either 4,000 or 3,000 Italian issar=6,000 zuz (also called dinar) = 12,000 PROVINCIAL sela=24,000 perutah Coins in daily use were denarii (or zuz) and sela'im from imperial mints, while "small change" copper coinage was minted locally in a number of cities, and were considered to be equal to 1/8 the imperial coins. In Babylonia during the Sassanid period (from the early third century onward), the standard silver unit was the Sassanid drachm, called in the Talmud zuz (from Akkadian zuzu—"to cut"), while smaller copper coins http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/weightsandmeasures.html (4 of 12)2/11/2004 13:32:22

Weights, Measures, and Coins: From the Bible Through the Talmudic Period

of varying sizes were called peshitte.

The History of Coins: How We Got From Shekels to Sela'im Under Persian rule, some forms of Judean coins were minted, imitations of Athenian coinage. These silver coins are rather rare, but at least six coin types are known with the inscription Yehud (Aramaic: Judea). Some follow the "head/owl" type, while others show a falcon, a fleur-de-lis, a Janus head, a god seated on a winged chariot, and a bird of an unidentified kind. It cannot be determined whether the Jewish high priest or the local Persian governor was the issuing authority, but it's clear that the community of Judea at that time had no problems placing images on coins. In fact, one of the coins contains the Hebrew name Hezekiah (Yehezkiyyah). With the rise of Alexander the Great, the coins of the Greek world were briefly universalized. With the mounting tension between the Selecuids and the Ptolemies, each Greek nation created its own coins. Beginning in 137 BCE, the Hasmoneans minted their own coins, mostly the small bronze perutah or dilepton. In accordance with the Second Commandment no likeness of living beings, men or animals, are found on them. Most of the emblems, for example the cornucopia—single or double—the wreath surrounding the legend, the anchor, the flower, the star, and the helmet, were copied from emblems found on the late issues of the Seleucid coinage. All Hasmonean coins bear Hebrew legends, but those of Alexander Yannai and Mattathias Antigonus also have legends in Greek. The Hebrew legend, written in the old Hebrew script, almost always appeared in the formula, "X, the high priest and the assembly of the elders of the state of the Jews." The Hasmonean rulers were thus styled on most coins as high priests. The only exception is Alexander Yannai who eventually also styled himself king on some of his Hebrew legends. On the Greek legends the Hasmonean rulers styled themselves throughout as "king." With one exception, all Hasmonean coins were undated, which presents scholars with difficulties in arranging them chronologically, especially as different rulers went by the same names. In spite of earlier opinions, Simeon, the first independent Hasmonean ruler (142–135 BCE), never issued any coins. According to I Maccabees 15:2–9, Antiochus VII http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/weightsandmeasures.html (5 of 12)2/11/2004 13:32:22

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granted Simeon the right to issue coinage, but it has been proved that this grant was withdrawn before Simeon could make use of it. It has been suggested that Simeon's son John Hyrcanus I (135–104 BCE) did not start issuing coins immediately on succeeding his father, but only considerably later, probably in 110 BCE. This suggestion is based on the fact that cities in Phoenicia and in Palestine received the right to coin their own money from the declining Seleucid kingdom: Tyre in 126 BCE., Sidon in 110 BCE, and Ashkelon in 104 BCE. John Hyrcanus' coins were the main pattern for the whole series of Hasmonean coins. One side depicted a wreath surrounding the legend, "Johanan [Yehohanan] the high priest and the assembly of the elders of the state of the Jews," while the reverse side showed a double cornucopia with a pomegranate. All his coins were of the perutah denomination. The coins of his successor, Aristobulus I (104–103 BCE), were in brass with the same denomination and type, but the name was replaced by Judah (Yehudah). At the beginning of his reign Alexander Yannai (103–76 BCE) issued coins of the same type as his predecessors, changing the name to Jonathan (Yehonatan). Later, he issued another series of coins (in Hebrew and Greek) on which he styled himself king. Their emblems were star, anchor, both sometimes surrounded by a circle, and flower. A lepton or halfperutah with a palm branch, and a flower also belonged to this "king" series. One type of this series, the star/anchor surrounded by a circle, was very frequent. This was the only coin type in the whole series of Jewish coins which bears an Aramaic legend written in square Hebrew letters and which has been dated. The Hebrew as well as the Greek date 25, which is the 25th year of reign of Alexander Yannai (78 BCE), were recently discerned. As in the Greek legends and this Aramaic one as well, his name is given as "Alexandros." Alexander Yannai also apparently issued lead coins which belong to his "king" series. It is believed that in his final issues he reverted to the early Hasmonean coin type, styling himself again as high priest but altering his Hebrew name from Yehonatan to Yonatan probably in order to avoid the formula of the Tetragrammaton. The bulk of the coins of John Hyrcanus II (67, 63–40 BCE) were in the same shape as those of John Hyrcanus I. There were, however, varieties which were peculiar to his issues. Greek letters, single or as monograms, eventually appeared on his coins. These letters probably refered to the magistrates who were responsible for the mint.

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Besides the regular coin type, Hyrcanus II also issued lepta or half perutot of the same type as did his father Alexander Yannai, bearing the palmbranch/flower. One larger trilepton shows a helmet and a double cornucopia. On all his coins he styled himself high priest. During the short reign of the last Hasmonean ruler, Antigonus Mattathias (40–37 BCE), a fundamental change occurred in the coin issue of the Hasmoneans. His Hebrew name Mattityahu (Mattathias) is only given on his perutah denomination. The pomegranate between the double cornucopia is replaced by an ear of barley. He issued two larger denominations which can be compared with the Seleucid chalcous and dichalcous. Antigonus was the only Jewish ruler who depicted the holy vessels of the Temple of Jerusalem on his coins, specifically, the table of shewbread and the seven-branched lampstand. In his Hebrew legends he styled himself "high priest" and in his Greek legends "king." His Hebrew name is known to us only from his coins. The coins of Herod the Great (37–4 BCE), all of bronze as those of his successors, can be divided into two groups: those which are dated and those which are not. The dated coins all bear the same date, the year three. As Herod no doubt reckoned his reign from his appointment as king of Judea by the Romans in 40 BCE and not from his actual accession three years later, the "year three" is equal to 37 BCE. All legends on his coins were in Greek and no Hebrew legends appear on the coins of the Herodian dynasty. The legends rendered his name and title. The emblems on his coins were the tripod, thymiaterion, caduceus, pomegranate, shield, helmet, aphlaston, palm branch, anchor, double and single cornucopia, eagle, and galley. It may be concluded from this selection of symbols that Herod the Great did not wish to offend the religious feelings of his subjects. The denominations of his coins were the chalcous and hemichalcous, the trilepton, and frequently the dilepton or perutah. The coins of Herod Archelaus (4 BCE–6 CE) are undated and bear mainly maritime emblems, such as the galley, prow, and anchor. Other types are the double cornucopia, the helmet, bunch of grapes, and wreath surrounding the legend. His main denomination was the perutah, but he also issued a trilepton. Herod Antipas (tetrarch of Galilee 4 BCE– 39 CE) began to issue coins only after he founded and settled his new capital Tiberias. All his coins are dated. The earliest date is from the 24th year of his reign (19/20 CE). On his coins he is called Herod, but they can easily be distinguished as

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they bear his title "tetrarch." The emblems on his coins are all of flora such as the reed, the palm branch, a bunch of dates, and a palm tree. Though the emblems are the same on all denominations, three denominations can be distinguished. Oner side showed a wreath that surrounded the legend "Tiberias"; only the series of the last year refered to Gaius Caligula. As the territory of the tetrarch Herod Philip I (4 BCE.–34 CE) was predominantly non-Jewish, he allowed himself to strike coins with a representation of the ruling Roman emperor and the pagan temple erected by his father in his capital Panias. His coins were dated from the year 5 to the year 37 of his reign, though not all dates occur. The most common coin struck by King Herod Agrippa I (37–44 CE), grandson of Herod the Great, was a perutah of the year 6 of his reign (42/3 CE), depicting an umbrella-shaped royal canopy and three ears of barley. This coin was obviously struck for Judea. For the other districts of his kingdom he issued coins that would have offended Jewish religious feelings as they carried his own portrait or that of the Roman emperor and even gods or human beings in the Greco-Roman style of the period. On one very rare coin two clasped hands are shown; the legend seems to refer to an alliance between the Jewish people and the Roman senate. All Agrippa's coins are dated, and in his non-Jewish series two different groups of two denominations each can be discerned belonging to the reigns of Caligula and Claudius respectively. Herod of Chalcis (41–48 CE), brother of Agrippa I, regularly put his portrait on his coins, calling himself "friend of the emperor." Some of his extremely rare coins bear the date "year 3," others are undated; a system of three denominations can be observed in this coinage too. From the time of the son of Herod of Chalcis, Aristobulus of Chalcis (57–92 CE), only a few rare specimens have been preserved. They bear his portrait and sometimes also that of his wife Salome. His coins can be identified by their legends which mention him and his wife Salome as king and queen. Because of his long reign, the series of coins assigned to Herod Agrippa II (c. 50–93 CE) is the largest and most varied among the coin series of the Herodians. Two types bear his likeness, and others issued in the year 5 of Agrippa with the name of Nero have a legend surrounded by a wreath.

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There are two coins which have a double date (the years 6 and 11) and which belong to the two different eras used on his coins. These double dated coins bear "inoffensive" symbols such as double cornucopias and a hand grasping various fruits. All his coins, like those of his father Agrippa I, were of bronze and dated, making it easy to arrange them in chronological order. There are however some difficulties. The first is the parallel issue of coins in the name of Vespasian and in the name of his sons Titus and Domitian. It has been accepted that all his Greek coins belonged to an era starting in the year 56 CE. The Latin series issued in the name of Domitian belongs to an era starting in 61 CE. The bulk of his coins were struck during the reign of the Flavian emperors, with Tyche, the goddess of destiny, and the goddess of victory as emblems. A unique specimen, with the victory inscription on a shield hanging on a palm-tree, refers to the Roman victory in the Jewish War (66–70 C.E.). Agrippa thus put himself into the Roman camp against his own people. His coinage, as described above, shows the most far-reaching deviation from Jewish tradition among the ancient coinage issued by Jewish rulers. By the time the Jewish War broke out, the Tyrian mint had ceased to issue silver shekels, but shekels were needed by every Jewish adult male for the payment of the annual Temple tax of a half-shekel (Exodus 30:11ff.; II Kings 12:5ff.). This reason and the resolve of the Jewish authorities to demonstrate their sovereignty over their own country led to the decision to strike the well-known "thick" shekels and half- and quarter-shekels dated from the first to the fifth year of the era of the war. These are the first silver coins Jews struck in antiquity. They are of an extraordinarily good quality, artistically as well as technically. The emblems are as simple as they are beautiful: a chalice with pearl rim and three pomegranates. The legends which are, of course, only in Hebrew and written in the old Hebrew script, read Yerushalayim ha-Kedoshah ("Jerusalem the Holy") and Shekel Yisrael ("Shekel of Israel") with the abbreviated dates: shin alef, shin bet for sh[enat], a[lef], "year one," sh[enat] b[et], "year two," etc.). Small bronze coins of the perutah denomination were struck during the second and third year of the war, and three larger denominations were issued during the fourth year, two of which indicate the denomination as revi'a ("quarter") and chatzi ("half"). The emblems of the bronze coins were the vine leaf, the amphora, the lulav, the etrog, the palm tree, the fruit baskets, and the chalice. During the Bar Kochba War (133-135 CE) the last Jewish coin series in

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antiquity was issued. Bar Kochba became the head of the Jewish community, and the bulk of the coins issued bear the name Simeon and eventually his title "prince of Israel." However, other coins exist from that period which bear the name of "Eleazar the Priest" or simply that of "Jerusalem" as the minting authority. The coins were issued over a period of a little more than three years. The coins of the first two years were dated, but the formula of the era changed from "Year one of the redemption of Israel" to "Year two of the freedom of Israel." During the third year and until the end of the war, the coins issued were undated and bore the war slogan "For the freedom of Jerusalem." These coin types, too, were as numerous as they were beautiful, and artistically ranked first in the series of Jewish coins. The coins were issued in silver and in bronze. The entire issue was overstruck on coins then current in Palestine, such as on the Roman provincial tetradrachms (mainly from Antiochia) and on the Roman denarii or provincial drachma, as well as on local bronze city coins mainly from Ashkelon and Gaza. Bar Kochba possibly obtained the gentile coins needed for overstriking by means of a public loan for the national war effort. There were two silver denominations, the tetradrachm or sela and the denarius or zuz. The Temple front and a lulav and etrog appeared on the tetradrachms, while a rather large number of emblems occurred on the denarii, such as a wreath surrounding the legend, a bunch of grapes, a juglet, a lyre, a kitara, a pair of trumpets, and a palm branch. These emblems were used in many die combinations, thereby creating a large number of coin types. The bronze coinage was divided into four denominations, a system taken over from the city coinage then current in Palestine and which was reused for the Bar Kochba issues. In general, the Bar Kochba coinage was based on the tradition of the coinage of the Jewish War, 66–70. The amphora, vine leaf, and palm tree occurred on the coins of that period, and the similarity of the legends is all the more striking, with the name of Zion replaced by the name Israel during the Bar Kochba War. The vast majority of coins used during the Roman period were minted by the Romans themselves. After the banishment of Herod Archelaus in 6 C. E., his territory (Judea and Samaria) came under direct Roman rule administered by a procurator of equestrian rank. Some of these procurators issued coins of the perutah denomination as follows: coin types with a palm tree and an ear of barley; coin types with a wreath surrounding legend, a double cornucopia, olive spray, three lilies, a vine leaf or leaves, kantaros, amphora, and a palm branch; coin types with http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/weightsandmeasures.html (10 of 12)2/11/2004 13:32:22

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three ears of barley, simpulum, lituus, and a wreath surrounding the date of issue; and coin types with a wreath surrounding legend, two crossed spears, a palm tree, and a palm branch. It is believed that these coins were issued at Caesarea Maritima, the administrative center of the Romans in Palestine. All coins bore the regal years of the respective Roman emperors and can therefore be arranged in chronological order without difficulty. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., Palestine became a separate administrative unit called provincia Judaea. The Flavian emperors appointed a legatus pro praetore as head of the local administration, and he was also the commander of the military forces stationed in the province. During the reigns of Vespasian (69–79 C.E.) and Titus (79–81 C.E.) the coins issued refer in their types and legends to the Roman victory; the legends are the Greek equivalent to the well-known legend Judaea Capta. Under Domitian (81–96 C.E.) four series of coins were issued, which do not refer to the victory over the Jews, but to Domitian's victories in Germany and Britain. All but the last two coin types of Domitian are undated and their chronological order was conjectural until recently. Individual Roman-held cities also minted their own coins. City coins issued under Roman rule customarily had the head of the emperor on one side while the reverse bore images referring to the city, such as temples built there, the gods worshiped by their inhabitants, and military garrisons stationed in them. The legends frequently indicated the status of the city within the Roman empire, such as colonia, autonomous, etc. The archaeological finds suggest that the circulation of these coins was not restricted to the city by which they were issued, but was countrywide. In some cases (Ashkelon, Gaza, Neapolis, Sepphoris, and Tiberias) the money systems consisted of three or more denominations. Their equivalency with the Roman coin system cannot be ascertained. All these coins were of bronze. The only city in Palestine that issued an autonomous silver coinage was Ashkelon (between 51 and 30 BCE)—coins bearing portraits of Ptolemy XIV, Ptolemy XV, and Cleopatra VII. The city coinage came to an end in about 260 C.E. when it became known that the value of the metal was greater than their nominal value. It was then replaced by debased Roman imperial coins.

Source: JewishGates.org

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The Western Wall Table of Contents

The Western Wall



● ● ● ● ●

UN Security Council Resolution 1073 (Condemning Israel for Western Wall tunnel) — 9/28/96 ❍ A Critical Analysis of Security Council Resolution 1073 Western Wall Western Wall Images “Western Wall” or “Wailing Wall”? The Western Wall and its Tunnels The Western Wall Tunnels: An Archaeological Appraisal

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Who Were the Hebrews?

Who Were the Hebrews? By Gerald A. Larue

According to biblical tradition, the Hebrews are peoples descended from Shem, one of Noah's sons, through Eber, the eponymous ancestor, and Abraham. Gen. 7:22 f., reports that the flood destroyed all life except that in Noah's ark; consequently, the whole human family descended from Noah and his sons: Japheth, Ham and Shem. As yet, not all of the names of eponymous ancestors in the family lines can be identified,1 but some probabilities are listed in Chart 6. From Shem, through Arpachshad and Shelah came Eber, the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, and from his descendants through Peleg, Reu, Sereg and Nahor came Terah, the father of Abram and his brothers Nahor and Haran. It becomes clear that if "Hebrews" are descendants of Eber, then others besides those of Abraham's line would be included (see Gen. 10:25-27). Read Gen. 12-25 With Abraham the story of the Hebrews begins, and it is clearly stated that Hebrew origins lay outside Canaan. The summons to leave his ancestral home and journey to Canaan is accompanied by a promise (Gen. 12:2) that becomes a submotif in patriarchal accounts, reappearing again and again (cf. Gen. 13:14 f., 15:5 f., 18:10, 22:17, 26:24, 28:13 f., 32:12 f., 35:9 ff., 48:16), finally taking covenantal form (Gen. 17:14 ff.). The promise has two parts: nationhood and divine blessing or protection. The precise location of the nation-to-be is not specified but was, of course, known to those hearing or reading the account. The promise of blessing signified the unique and particularistic bond between Yahweh and his followers, so that the enemies of Abraham or the nation were enemies of Yahweh, and those befriending Abraham and/or the nation would be blessed. With this assurance, Abraham journeyed to Canaan, Egypt, the Negeb, Hebron, Gezer, Beer-sheba and back to Hebron where he and his wife Sarah died. The descriptions of Abraham are not uniform: at times he appears as a lonely migrant, at others as a chieftain, head of a large family, or as a warrior. Factual details about the patriarch are difficult to establish, for his real significance lies in what is often called "inner history," through which those who looked to Abraham as a forefather gained understanding of themselves as "people of the promise" and attained, a sense of destiny and an appreciation of their particular relationship to their deity. We have noted earlier that some Abrahamic traditions coincide with information coming from Nuzi, which would place Abraham in the Middle Bronze era.

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Who Were the Hebrews?

We read that Abraham, in response to a divine summons, left Mesopotamia and journeyed to Canaan with his wife, Sarah, and nephew, Lot. It is clear that the people were meant to recognize themselves as a community originating in a commission from God and in the unwavering, unquestioning obedience of Abraham. The journey itself was more than a pilgrimage, for it constituted the starting point of a continuing adventure in nationhood. Nor are the travelers without vicissitudes, but throughout famine, earthquake, fire and war, they are protected by Yahweh. Gen. 14, in which Abraham is called a "Hebrew" for the first time, records a battle between the patriarch and kings of countries or areas as yet unidentified for certain and associates him with the Canaanite king of Jerusalem. It is possible that reliable historical data are preserved here.2 The account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah may also rest in some memory of a shift in the earth's crust that destroyed the cities of the plain. Tradition associates Abraham with Hebron, and if Jebel er-Rumeide is the site of this ancient city, it is evident that a powerful city was located here in the Middle Bronze period.3 Abraham's adventures in the Negeb, the problems of grazing and watering rights, and the digging of a well at Beer-sheba4 echo genuine problems of the shepherd. The episode involving Sarah and King Abimelech (a doublet of Gen. 12:10 ff.) introduces Sarah's relationship to Abraham as both wife and sister, a relationship which in Hurrian society provided the wife with privileged social standing. It may also be interpreted as an historic link with the cultures of the upper Euphrates.5 The close relationship between the Hebrews and the people of the desert and steppes is recognized in the story of Ishmael, the nomadic first son of Abraham; but it is through Isaac, the second son about whom so very little is recorded, that the Hebrews trace their own family line. Both Isaac and his son Jacob maintain a separateness from the people among whom they dwell, taking wives from among their own kin in Haran (Gen. 24; 28). The story of Jacob, who becomes Israel, and his twin brother Esau, who becomes Edom, is colored with rivalry, trickery and bitter misundertanding but also contains echoes of Hurrian custom. In Hurrian law, birthright could be purchased, and some of the terminology associated with Isaac's blessing of his sons reflects Hurrian patterns.6

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Who Were the Hebrews?

The stories about Jacob also accord with Nuzi (Hurrian) law for it is recorded that a man may labor for his wife.7 In dealing with his uncle Laban, Jacob's trickery was matched by his uncle's deceptive acts. There is no condemnation of chicanery but, rather, the attitude that to best a man in a business contract revealed cleverness. When Jacob's hopes to inherit his uncle's estate were dashed by the birth of male heirs, he broke contract and fled, and it was only when a new contract was made that relationships were healed. The account of Jacob's night wrestling with an angelic visitor has probably come down to us through various recensions, for it now contains two aetiological explanations: one concerning the name "Jacob-Israel" and the other giving the reason why the ischiatic sinew is not eaten by Hebrews. Other traditions associate Jacob with Bethel and Shechem. Joseph, the son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by jealous brothers and rose to high office in Egypt. When his father and brothers migrated to Egypt to escape famine, they were regally received and encouraged to settle. Documents attesting to the custom of admitting nomadic groups into the country in time of famine are known from Egypt, and the Joseph stories reflect many accurate details about Egyptian life and may be derived in part from Egyptian tales, as we shall see. The pharaoh under whom Joseph rose to power is not identified. It is quite possible, as A. Alt has argued, that the patriarchs were founders of separate cults or clans in which distinctive names for the deity were compounded with patriarchal names.8 Hence, the deity was known as "the Shield of Abraham" (Gen. 15:1), "the Fear of Isaac" (Gen. 31:42, 53), and "the Mighty One of Jacob" (Gen. 49:24). Individual representations were later fused and equated with Yahweh, and individual clan heroes were placed in an historical sequence and made part of a single family line from Abraham to Jacob (Israel). Read Exod. 1-6 After what appears to be an extended period of time, the Hebrews increased in numbers and became a mighty multitude, and a pharaoh who was indifferent to the Joseph traditions inherited the throne and persecuted the Hebrews, pressing them into virtual enslavement. Moses, a desert refugee from Egyptian justice, became associated with the Kenite people. On the slopes of Mount Sinai in a dramatic encounter with Yahweh, he was commissioned to act as deliverer of the Hebrews. In the clash with Pharaoh, the god-king's power was overshadowed by Yahweh through a series of horrendous events in which the Nile was turned to blood and plagues involving frogs, gnats, flies, cattle, boils, hail, locusts and darkness are ultimately climaxed by the death of all the first-born children of Egypt (Read Exod. 7-11). This final act, associated in tradition with the Passover festival, persuaded Pharaoh to release the Hebrews. Shortly after the Hebrews departed, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued them. At the Sea of Reeds, Yahweh permitted the Hebrews to pass through the waters unscathed but overwhelmed the Egyptians. The Hebrews pressed into the wilderness to Mount Sinai where the law was given and there they entered a covenant with Yahweh (Read Num. 14:39f.). After an abortive attempt to seize Canaan by penetrating from the south, they moved eastward and, after many setbacks, took up a position on the eastern side of the Jordan, just north of the Salt Sea. Here Moses died, and under his successor, Joshua, the attacks on Canaan were launched. PROBLEMS WITH DATES AND PLACES Efforts to date the patriarchal period have not been particularly rewarding, for biblical chronology is complex. In the P source, 215 years pass between the time of Abraham's journey to Canaan and Jacob's migration to Egypt (see Gen. 12:4b, 21:5, 25:26, 47:9), and the period spent in Egypt is given as 430 years (Exod. 12:40 f.), making a total of 645 years before the Exodus. As we shall see, most scholars date the Exodus near the middle of the thirteenth century, so that Abraham would leave Mesopotamia at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and Jacob's http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebrews.html (3 of 9)2/11/2004 13:32:29

Who Were the Hebrews?

journey to Egypt would occur about 1700 B.C. Unfortunately, date variations occur in some manuscripts. In the LXX, Exod. 12:40 includes time spent in both Egypt and Canaan in the 430year period (some manuscripts read 435 years). According to this reckoning, Abraham's journey would fall in the seventeenth century and Jacob's in the fifteenth century. The early nineteenth century date for Abraham places his departure from Mesopotamia at the time of the Elamite and Amorite invasion. It harmonizes with the conclusions of Nelson Glueck, who found that between the twenty-first and nineteenth centuries B.C. the Negeb was dotted with hamlets where inhabitants, having learned how to hoard water, engaged in agriculture and tended small flocks. Such settlements would provide stopping places for Abraham and his retinue.9 The seventeenth century date for Jacob's settlement in Egypt coincides with the Hyksos invasion of Egypt, lending support to Josephus' hypothesis, for Hebrews may have been part of this movement. The second pattern of dating would place Abraham in the time of Hammurabi of Babylon and would give strength to the argument that the mention of King Amraphel of Shinar in Gen. 14:1 is a Hebraized reference to Hammurabi. Abraham would, therefore, be in Canaan during the Hyksos period, and Joseph would have risen to power in the Amarna age. The close of the Amarna period brought to power leaders hostile to Akhenaton and possibly also to those he had favored. Whatever the correct date for Abraham may be, he represents the beginning of the nation to the Hebrews. Yahweh's promise to the patriarch and his successors is considered to be the guarantee of national existence (Num. 32:11). There are no references to Abraham in the writings of the eighth century prophets, for then stress was laid on the Exodus as the starting point of the nation. In the seventh and sixth centuries, and in the post-Exilic period, the Abrahamic tradition came to the fore once again. Efforts to determine the date and route of the Exodus have been disappointing. Josephus placed the Exodus at the time of the overthrow of the Hyksos by Ahmose in the sixteenth century, a date that is far too early. Biblical evidence is limited. I Kings 6:1 reports that Solomon began building the temple in the fourth year of his reign, 480 years after the Exodus. Solomon's rule is believed to have begun near the middle of the tenth century, possibly about 960 B.c. Thus, the date of the Exodus would be: 960 minus 4 (4th year of reign) plus 480, or 1436. In that case, Thutmose III would be the pharaoh of the oppression, and his mother, Hatshepsut, might be identified as the rescuer of the infant Moses. The Hebrew invasion of Canaan, taking place forty years later or about 1400 B.C., might be identified with the coming of the 'apiru.10 Another theory is based on the reference to the building of Pithom and Raamses in Exod. 1:11. It was noted earlier that both Seti I and Rameses II worked at the rebuilding of these cities, and that Rameses is the best candidate for the Pharaoh of the Exodus (1290-1224 B.C.). If the Exodus took place between 1265 and 1255, the invasion of Canaan would occur in Mernephtah's reign, and some encounter between Egyptians and Hebrews would be the basis for his boast of annihilating Israel. Attempts to chart the course followed by the fleeing Hebrews is equally frustrating. No one knows for sure the location of Mount Sinai, and the site chosen for the holy mountain determines, in part, the route suggested. Attempts have been made to identify stopping places mentioned in Num. 33:1-37,11 but the identifications can be no more than conjectures, for biblical descriptions are vague without distinctive landmarks.12

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Who Were the Hebrews?

The traditional site of Sinai, Jebel Musa, near the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, has been widely accepted since the fourth and fifth centuries A.D., although there was some confusion over which mountain in the cluster of peaks was Sinai. The traditional route to Jebel Musa begins in Egypt, crosses the Sea of Reeds (identified either at the tip of the Red Sea in the Gulf of Heroonpolis [Gulf of Suez] or as one of the papyrus swamps above the gulf), and goes southward along the western edge of the Sinai peninsula before turning inland to Jebel Musa. From Sinai, the Hebrews would move to the north along the Gulf of Aqabah toward Ezion Geber and Kadesti Barnea. Sinai has also been identified as Jebel Helal, located in the northern part of the peninsula. The route to this mountain goes from Egypt across the marshy swamp area and follows the Way of Shur, one of the major trade routes of the ancient world, to Jebel Helal and Kadesh Barnea. Another route to this same mountain goes over the land strip of Lake Sirbonis (which becomes the Sea of Reeds), northward along the Way of the Philistines, the coastal route, then southward to Kadesh Barnea and Jebel Helal. Some have insisted that the descriptions in Exod. 19:16 suggest volcanic disturbances and that Sinai must be sought among volcanic mountains, probably those in the Midianite areas on the eastern side of the Gulf of Aqabah. One choice among these mountains is El Khrob which preserves the name Horeb. The Exodus route would then follow the Way of Shur to Kadesh Barnea and Ezion Geber and down the coast to El Khrob. Sinai has also been located in Edomite territory, for Judg. 5:4 and Deut. 33:2 locate the mountain in Seir. Jebel Faran on the west side of the Wadi Arabah has been suggested as a possible choice, and mountains in the Petra area have also been suggested. In this case the Hebrews would have traveled along the Way of Shur, by way of Ezion Geber, into Edomite territory.13 Although, for the scholar, there are innumerable problems associated with the Exodus tradition, this memorable event became a central factor in the interpretation of the Hebrew faith. Here Yahweh had demonstrated his loyal, redeeming love to the people whom he had chosen as his own. In the darkest days of the Exilic period, the memory of the Exodus event became a source of hope, for it was believed that Yahweh would deliver his people from bondage in Babylon even as he had rescued them from Egypt.

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Who Were the Hebrews?

A somewhat different tradition of Hebrew beginnings is reflected in Ezek. (16:3 ff.), where mixed ancestry — Amorite, Hittite and Canaanite — is attributed to the Jerusalemites. But here we have a unique situation, for Jerusalem was a Jebusite stronghold which did not become a Hebrew city until the time of David (II Sam. 5). The firstfruits liturgy (Deut. 26:5) traces Hebrew ancestry to the Aramaeans, but the designation appears to be used in a broad rather than a specific sense. Etymological analyses of the term "Hebrew" ( 'ibri) have given little help to the study of origins. The term has been related to a root, meaning "to go over" or "to go across"; hence, a "Hebrew" would be one who crossed over or one who went from place to place, a nomad, a wanderer, a designation that would fit some aspects of patriarchal behavior. A similar term, habiru, is found in cuneiform documents from the twentieth to the eleventh centuries, often used interchangeably with another word, SA.GAZ. At times the Habiru appear to be settled in specific locations; at times they serve in the army as mercenaries, or are bound to masters as servants. The El Amarna tablets refer to invaders of Palestine as 'apiru, a word bearing close relationship to the terms habiru and "Hebrew."14 Extensive research has led many scholars to the conclusion that the term "Hebrew" was first used as an appellative to describe foreigners who crossed into settled areas and referred not to a specific group but to a social caste. If the word "Hebrew" parallels habiru or 'apiru, we know that these people on occasion were employed, at times created settlements of their own, and at other times attacked established communities. The suggestion that the terms 'apiru, habiru and "Hebrew" relate to those who have renounced a relationship to an existing society, who have by a deliberate action withdrawn from some organization or rejected some authority, and who have become through this action freebooters, slaves, employees or mercenaries presents real possibilities.15 In the Bible the word Hebrew becomes an ethnic term used interchangeably with "Israelite."16

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Who Were the Hebrews?

Perhaps the best that can be said is that the Hebrews of the Bible appear to be one branch of the Northwest Semitic group, related linguistically to Canaanites, Edomites and Moabites, who moved from a semi-nomadic existence to settled life in the Bronze Age. It is clear from biblical tradition that, at the beginning of their history, the semi-nomadic Hebrews with flocks of sheep and goats were at the point of moving into a settled way of life. The patriarchs are chiefs of large families or clans living, for the most part, in peace among their neighbors with whom they enter covenants. From family and clan beginnings came tribes linked to one another by ancestral blood ties. Bonds between clans or tribes were so strong that the group might be described as having an existence of its own, a personality embodying the corporate membership. This phenomenon of psychic unity, labeled "corporate personality" by H. Wheeler Robinson,17 placed particular responsibilities upon each member of the group. Because group life was a unity, injury to a single member was injury to all demanding repayment by the next of kin, the go'el.18 Blood shed was tribal blood requiring redemption by the next of kin. Should a man die without offspring, his next of kin had to bring the widow to fruition, and the child born to her became the child of the dead man, the one carrying his name (Ruth 4:4-10). As the father was at the head of the family, so the tribal chief and elders led the larger group, seeking the well-being, peace and psychic health of the members. The corporate nature of the group afforded great protection, for wherever a member went, he was backed by the strength of the tribe to which he belonged. Fear of reprisal tended to be — but was not always — a restraining factor in violation of social mores (Judg. 19-20). When the head of the household died, the widow and orphan were cared for by the next of kin and ultimately by the total group. Tribal and family religion centered in holy places where a local priesthood tended shrines, kept altar fires burning, and shared in offerings (I Sam. 2:12-17). The father seems to have acted as ministrant on behalf of the family (I Sam. 1). Offerings were made and a meal shared through which the participants were bound more firmly together. There is no evidence that the deity was believed to participate in the meal. Agreements made at holy places were witnessed by the deity who guaranteed fulfillment of terms (Gen. 31:51 ff.). The shrine of Ba'al-berith (Judg. 9:4) or Elberith (Judg. 9:46), the "covenant god" at Shechem, may have been a holy place where covenants were made in the presence of the god. An important custom in Hebrew society was the practice of hospitality. A guest was honored and entertained, even at considerable expense to the host (Gen. 18:1-8, 24:28-32). Once under the host's roof, or having shared food, the guest was guaranteed protection (Gen. 19, Judg. 19). Should a stranger settle in the community, he enjoyed most of the rights and responsibilities. From time to time new groups were grafted into the family tree of Hebrew tribes, and the heritage of the larger group became that of the adopted ones, as when the Calebites united with the tribe of Judah (Josh. 14:6-15, 15:13). When confronted by common problems or enemies, tribal federations were formed (see Judg. 4-5). On the other hand, when a famine or food shortage occurred, one group might leave to seek new territory (Gen. 13). Tribal activity in Canaan is portrayed as a twelve-tribe federation19 often called an amphictyony, after Greek tribal federations.20 However, clear distinctions between Greek and Hebrew patterns must be recognized. Greek cities united in an amphictyony centered about a shrine where peoples from the surrounding cities worshiped and where decisions affecting the participating members were made. The Hebrew amphictyony was centered in the Ark of Yahweh, a moveable shrine. Some scholars have argued that a primitive amphictyonic ritual was observed at the shrine at Sliechem,21 but the hypothesis rests only upon probabilities. A six-tribe federation, which preceded the twelve-tribe grouping, has also been postulated involving the Leah tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, udah, Zebulun and Issachar.22

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Who Were the Hebrews?

CHART VII. Sometimes the tribes are listed genealogically (Gen. 35:23; I Chron. 2:1-2) sometimes in cultic formation (Num. 2-3; Deut. 27:12); and sometimes geographically (Num. 34:14-28; I Chron. 6:54 ff.; Ezek. 48:1 ff.). Usually twelve tribes are mentioned, but the identification of the tribes varies: in one Dinah is listed in place of Benjamin (Gen. 29-30), and in Chronicles both halves of the tribe of Manasseh are counted (I Chron. 2-3; 6:54-80). Some lists mention only ten tribes (Deut. 33:6 ff.; II Sam. 19:43); one gives eleven tribes (I King 11:31); and in Gen. 46:48 ff. there are thirteen.

Endnotes 1. G. von Rad, Genesis, trans. by John H. Marks (Philadelphia: Westrninster Press, 1961), pp. 142 f. 2. E. A. Speiser, Genesis, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1964), pp. 105 ff. 3. Gerald A. Larue, "The American Expedition to Hebron, 1965," The Journal of Bible and Religion, XXXIII (1965), 337 ff. 4. Possibly located at Tell Sheba, an unexcavated mound just east of the modern town. 5. Speiser, Genesis, pp. 91 ff. 6. Ibid., pp. 212 f. 7. Cf. G. Cornfeld (ed.), Adam to Daniel (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961), p. 85. 8. A. Alt, Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel (Munich: C. H. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1953), I. See also J. Bright, op. cit., pp. 88 ff. 9. Nelson Gltieck, Rivers in the Desert, pp. 68 ff. 10. Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past, pp. 118 ff. 11. G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology, p. 64; C. Kraeling, Bible Atlas, pp. 107 ff. 12. Y. Aharoni, "Kadesh Bamea and Mount Sinai," God's Wilderness (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962), p. 118. 13. For a detailed statement of conjectures on Sinai and the Exodus route, cf. Kraeling, op. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebrews.html (8 of 9)2/11/2004 13:32:29

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14.

15. 16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21. 22.

cit., chap. 6. Cf. T. J. Meek, Hebrew Origins, chap. 1. For the suggestion that the term 'apiru means "donkey driver, caravaneer" cf. Wm. F. Albright, "Abram the Hebrew: A New Archaeological Interpretation," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (henceforth BASOR), No. 163 (1961) 36-54. E. F. Campbell, "The Amarna Letters and the Amarna Period," BA XXIII (1960), 15; G. E. Mendenhall, "The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine," BA XXV (1962), 71 f. For an extended discussion of the 'Apiru-Habiru-Hebrew problem, cf. Mary F. Gray, "The Habiru-Hebrew Problem in the Light of Source Material Available at Present," Hebrew Union College Annual, XXIX (1958), pp. 135-202; Moshe Greenberg, The Hab/piru, American Oriental Series, XXXIX (New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1955). H. Wheeler Robinson, "The Hebrew Conception of Corporate Personality," Werden und Wesen des Alten Testaments, J. Hempel (ed.), B.Z.A.W. LXVI, 1936, pp. 49ff. See also J. Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture (Copenhagen: Povl Branner, 1926), Vols. I-II; Aubrey R. Johnson, The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God, 2nd ed. (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1961) ; and Aubrey R. Johnson, The Vitality of the Individual in the Thought of Ancient Israel, 2nd ed. (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1964). Go'el comes from a root meaning "to recover" or "buy back" or "redeem," and thus means "redeemer," "restorer" and, in a sense, "protector." For a brief discussion, cf. Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions, John McHugh, trans. (New York: McGrawHill Book Co., 1961), pp. 21 f. The scheme develops out of the twelve sons of Jacob — six from Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun; two from Zilpah: Gad and Asher; two from Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; and two from Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali (cf. Gen. 29:16-30:24; 35:16-20). The final grouping for division of the land includes: Asher, Benjamin, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Judah, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon and ZebuIun. More than twenty variant lists occur within the Bible. Martin Noth, The History of Israel, pp. 87 ff.; John Bright, A History of Israel, pp. 142 f.; Murray Newman, The People of the Covenant (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), pp. 102 ff. Cf. Noth, op. cit., pp. 92 f.; Newman, op. cit., pp. 108 ff. Cf. Noth, op. cit., pp. 88 f.; Newman, op. cit., p. 102.

Sources: Old Testament Life and Literature is copyright © 1968, 1997 by Gerald A. Larue. All rights reserved. The electronic version is copyright © 1997 by Internet Infidels with the written permission of Gerald A. Larue. These files, and many more are available at the Secular Web: http://www.infidels.org/. For more information, send mail to [email protected].

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Akko: The Maritime Capital of the Crusader Kingdom

Akko: The Maritime Capital of the Crusader Kingdom

The port city of Akko (also known as Acre) is located on a promontory at the northern end of Haifa Bay. The earliest city was founded during the Bronze Age at Tel Akko (in Arabic Tel el-Fukhar – mound of the potsherds), just east of the present-day city. Akko is mentioned in ancient written sources as an important city on the northern coast of the Land of Israel. The wealth of finds, including remains of fortifications uncovered in the excavations at Tel Akko, attest to the long and uninterrupted occupation of the site during biblical times. The ancient site of Akko was abandoned during the Hellenistic period. A new city named Ptolemais, surrounded by a fortified wall, was built on the site of present-day Akko. The Romans improved and enlarged the natural harbor in the southern part of the city, and constructed a breakwater, thus making it one of the main ports on the eastern Mediterranean coast. The importance of Akko – a well protected, fortified city with a deepwater port – is reflected in its eventful history during the period of Crusader rule in the Holy Land. The Crusaders, who founded the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099, did not at first succeed in overcoming Akko’s fortifications. On 26 May 1104, after months of heavy siege and with the help of the Genoese fleet, the city surrendered and was handed over to King Baldwin I. Aware of the significance of the city and its port for the security of their kingdom, the Crusaders immediately began to construct a sophisticated system of fortifications composed of walls and towers, unlike any built previously. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Akko.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:33:24

Akko: The Maritime Capital of the Crusader Kingdom

These fortifications were built along the sea to the west and south of the city, while in the east and north a mighty wall (probably a double wall) with a broad, deep moat separated the city from the mainland. The port was also rebuilt and, according to literary sources and maps, included an outer and an inner harbor (the latter now silted). A new breakwater was built, protected by a tower at its far end; it is today known as the Tower of Flies. The fortifications of Akko, in which the Crusaders had placed their trust, fell relatively easily to the Muslims. Shortly after their victory at the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, on 9 July 1187, the city surrendered to Salah al-Din (Saladin) and its Christian inhabitants were evacuated. The Crusaders returned and laid siege to Akko in 1188, yet did not succeed in penetrating the massive fortifications, which they themselves had built. But the Muslims surrendered to Richard the Lion Heart, King of England and Philip Augustus, King of France (leaders of the Third Crusade) on 12 July 1191. For the following 100 years, the Crusaders ruled Akko. Jerusalem remained (but for a short period) under Muslim rule, thus immeasurably increasing the importance of Akko, which, during the 13th century, served as the political and administrative capital of the Latin Kingdom. Akko was the Crusaders’ foothold in the Holy Land, a mighty fortress facing constant Muslim threat. Its port served as the Crusader Kingdom’s link with Christian Europe, and also for trans-shipment westward of valuable cargoes originating in the east. The palace (castrum) of the Crusader kings was located in the northern part of the urban area of Akko, enclosed by massive fortifications. Near the harbor, merchant quarters known as communes were established by the Italian maritime cities of Venice, Pisa and Genoa. Each quarter had a marketplace with warehouses and shops, and dwellings for the merchant families. There were also centers for the various military orders – the Hospitalers, the Templars and others, who were responsible for defense of the Latin Kingdom. Throughout the city, a number of public buildings, such as churches and hospices, were constructed. At the beginning of the 13th century, a new residential quarter called Montmusard founded north of the city. It was surrounded by its own wall (probably also a double wall). In the middle of the century, sponsored by Louis IX of France, Akko expanded and became prosperous. With a population of about 40,000, it was the largest city of the Crusader Kingdom.

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Akko: The Maritime Capital of the Crusader Kingdom

The last battle between the Crusaders and the Muslims for control of Akko began in 1290. After a long siege by the Mamluks under al-Ashraf Khalil, a portion of the northern wall was penetrated; the city was conquered on 18 May 1291. The date marks the end of the Crusader presence in the Holy Land. Buildings from the Crusader period, including the city walls, were partially or completely buried beneath buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, when the city was part of the Ottoman Empire.

Remains from the Crusader Period Significant remains from the Crusader period were first uncovered in Akko during the 1950s and 1960s when portions of building complexes, below ground level but almost completely preserved, were cleared of debris. During the 1990s, within the framework of the development of Akko, excavations were undertaken both outside and inside the present-day Old City walls, bringing to light fascinating remains of Akko’s illustrious medieval history, previously known mainly from pilgrims’ accounts. The Hospitalers Compound

The most important of the subterranean remains of Akko of the Crusaders is located in the northern part of today’s Old City. It is the structure that was the headquarters of the Order of the Hospitalers (the Knights of St. John). It is an extensive building complex (ca. 4,500 sq. m.) with halls and many rooms built around a broad, open central courtyard. The thick walls were built of well-trimmed kurkar (local sandstone), and the complex was fortified with corner towers. When the Ottoman ruler of Akko, Ahmed alJazzar decided to build a citadel and a palace on the site, he had the Hospitalers’ building filled in with earth. In recent years, the 3-4 m. high earth fill blocking the central courtyard of the Hospitalers’ compound was removed, revealing the 1200 sq. m. courtyard. There are broad openings in the walls of the courtyard leading to the halls and rooms surrounding it. To support the upper storey, pointed arches issuing from broad pilasters that project from the walls were built. A 4.5 m. wide staircase supported by arches provided access from the eastern side of the courtyard to the second storey. An extensive network of drainage http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Akko.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:33:24

Akko: The Maritime Capital of the Crusader Kingdom

channels carried rainwater from the courtyard to a main sewer. In the southwestern corner of the courtyard was a stone-built well that guaranteed the residents’ water supply. South of the courtyard is a hall, which was misnamed the Crypt of St. John. This is a rectangular hall in Gothic style, 30 x 15 m. with a 10 m. high groin-vaulted ceiling supported by three round central piers, each 3 m. in diameter. Chimneys indicate that it served as a kitchen and refectory (dining hall). Fleurs-de-lis (symbol of the French royal family), are carved in stone in two corners of the hall. South of the hall lies a building complex known as al-Bosta. It is composed of a large hall with several enormous piers supporting a groin-vaulted ceiling. This subterranean building is in fact the crypt of St. John, over which the church itself was built. Portions of the church and its decorations were uncovered in the excavation. North of the central courtyard is a row of long, parallel underground vaulted halls, 10 m. high, known as the Knights’ Halls. On one side are gates opening onto the courtyard; on the other, windows and a gate facing one of the main streets of the Crusader city. These were the barracks of the members of the Order of Hospitalers. To the east of the courtyard, the 45 x 30 m. Hall of the Pillars was exposed, which had served as a hospital. Its 8 m. high ceiling is supported by three rows of five square piers. Above this hall of columns probably stood the four-storey Crusader palace depicted in contemporary drawings. Most of the buildings on the western side of the courtyard remain unexcavated. Several ornate capitals, illustrative of the elaborate architecture of this wing, were found. In its northern part was a public toilet with 30 toilet cubicles on each of its two floors. A network of channels drained the toilets into the central sewer of the city. An advanced underground sewage system was found beneath the group of buildings of the Hospitalers. This network drained rainwater and wastewater into the city’s central sewer. It was one meter in diameter and 1.8 m. high and runs from north to south. Streets

Portions of Crusader period streets were uncovered: in the Genoese quarter http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Akko.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:33:24

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in the center of the present old city of Akko, a 40 m.-long portion of a roofed street was exposed. It runs from east to west and is 5 m. wide. On both sides were buildings with courtyards and rooms facing the street serving as shops. In the Templar quarter in the southwestern part of the city, another portion of a main street leading to the harbor was uncovered. Some 200 m. of the street were exposed and along it, several Crusader buildings which had been buried beneath Ottoman structures. The Crusader City Walls

The location of the Crusader city walls is well known from detailed contemporary maps that have survived, but few traces have been found in excavations. Parts of the walls lie beneath the Ottoman fortifications; others were damaged when modern neighborhoods were built. Near the northeastern corner of the Ottoman fortifications, a 60 m. long segment of the northern Crusader wall was found; it is some 3 m. thick, and was built of local kurkar sandstone. A short distance eastward, parts of the corner of a tower built of large kurkar stones were preserved to a height of 6 m. The tower was fronted by a deep moat, 13 m. wide, and protected on its other side by a counterscarp wall. This section of wall belongs to the outer, northern fortifications, which were constructed in the 13th century to protect the then new Montmusard quarter. It is probably the Venetian Tower depicted in Crusader period maps. On the seashore some 750 m. north of the Old City are remains of the foundation trenches of a circular tower with a wall extending eastward from it, today covered by seawater. In the view of researchers, this is the round corner tower that stood at the western end of the wall surrounding the Montmusard quarter. The renewed excavations at Akko were conducted by A. Druks, M. Avissar, E. Stern, M. Hartal and D. Syon on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavations at the Hospitalers’compound were directed by E. Stern on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Ancient Arad

Ancient Arad

Ancient Arad is located in the Negev, some 30 km. northeast of Be'er Sheva, on a hill that rises 40 m. above the surrounding plain. During the 18 seasons of excavation conducted from 1962-1984, it became clear that the remains of ancient Arad are located in two separate areas and are from two distinct periods. The Canaanite city (3rd millennium BCE) was located mainly on the southern slope of the hill. On the summit of this hill, several fortresses were built in the period of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (10th-6th centuries BCE) and also later, during the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods (5th century BCE to 4th century CE). In the Early Arab period (7th-10th century), a fortified caravansary was established to protect the trade routes which passed there. Arad is mentioned in the Bible in the story of the failed attempt to reach the Promised Land (Numbers 21:1) and in the list of the Canaanite kings defeated by the Children of Israel. (Joshua 12:14) There exists, however, a historical-chronological problem with this biblical account, as there is no evidence that Tel (Heb., mound) Arad was inhabited during the Late Bronze Age. Scholars suggest that the King of Arad mentioned in the Bible was in fact the ruler of the Kingdom of Arad, "the Negev of Arad" (Judges 1:16), whose capital was another city.

The Canaanite City During the Early Bronze Age (2950-2650 BCE), Arad was a large, fortified and prosperous city. It served as the capital of the important Canaanite kingdom, which ruled over a large part of the northern Negev. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/arad.html (1 of 6)2/11/2004 13:33:26

Ancient Arad

The growth of Arad was part of the rapid urbanization of the Land of Israel during the 3rd millennium BCE. Technological development, such as the use of metal for plowing, the domestication of animals and the planting of fruit trees, created conditions for the establishment of large cities, even in outlying areas such as Arad. The climate in this region is hot and dry and the amount of precipitation is minimal, but the prosperity of a large Canaanite city must have depended on an established agriculture. In the view of experts, the Negev enjoyed in the past twice the amount of rain that falls today, thus making intensive agriculture possible. The Canaanite inhabitants of Arad grew wheat, barley and beans in the valley, and constructed earth dams in the wadis (dry river beds) to increase the amount of water for the orchards, mainly olive groves. Bones of goats, sheep and cattle, found in the ruins of the city's houses, attest to another element in the inhabitants' diet. The city was located at the crossroads of two main trade routes - the one southward from the Judean Hills to the Negev and Edom, and the other westward from the shores of the Dead Sea, across the Negev, to the southern coast which also contributed to the prosperity of ancient Arad. Canaanite Arad developed close trade relations with Egypt, evidence of which are the numerous vessels made in Egypt, and a fragment of a ceramic storage jar bearing the name of Narmer, King of Egypt, found at Arad. Copper objects from the royal mines in Sinai were acquired by the inhabitants of Arad, and probably paid for with agricultural products, olive oil and livestock. Bitumen originating from the Dead Sea, used for the sealing of sailing vessels as well as storage jars, and possibly also for mummifying, also made its way from the Dead Sea via Arad to Egypt. Canaanite Arad covered an area of about 25 acres and had an estimated population of 2,500. The city was surrounded by a fortified wall, some 1,200 m. long and 2.4 m. thick, with many semi-circular or rectangular towers projecting from it. Two gates and two posterns have been found thus far in the wall. The city itself was very carefully planned, with a network of streets. Along the inside of the wall was the main ring road; and from the gates ran cross streets towards the topographical depression at the city's center, which drained rainwater into a large reservoir, thus guaranteeing continued water supply during the long summers. The part of the city which has been excavated, was divided into quarters, each with a specific function: in the western part was the temple complex; in the south the residential areas. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/arad.html (2 of 6)2/11/2004 13:33:26

Ancient Arad

Dwelling The residential area was densely built-up, with streets and alleys between the blocks of houses. Dwellings were of many sizes, the smallest ca. 50 sq. m. and the largest ca. 150 sq.m., but similarly planned: a walled courtyard, one or two living rooms and a small utility room or kitchen. The typical living room in an Arad house was rectangular and had an opening to the courtyard in one of its long walls. The room, slightly below the level of the courtyard, was reached by descending two or three steps. The opening was closed with a wooden door, which pivoted in a socket in the stone threshold. Along the walls were low stone benches and in the center of the room was a stone base, on which a wooden pillar stood, supporting the roof which was made of wooden beams, bundles of straw and plaster. Grinding stones and a stone mortar for crushing grain were embedded in the floor. Containers made of dried mud for the storage of grain and clay stoves for heating and cooking were also found in the houses. A small clay model of a living room was found in one of the houses, showing the ceiling-high entrance and the flat roof.

Temples and a Palace The sacred precinct and the palace complex of the kings of Arad extended over enormous areas - each about 1,000 sq.m. - in the western part of the city. The sacred precinct included two twin temples dedicated to the gods of the city. The larger of the twin temples had two halls, one divided into three rooms, the smallest of which was the holy-of-holies. In one of the rooms, a welltrimmed stone stele was found standing upright, probably representing the god's presence in the temple. In the courtyard stood a stone altar, and next to it a sunken, ceremonial basin lined with stones, probably for ritual immersion. The palace of the kings of Canaanite Arad was comprised of several units. At its center were the royal chambers - several large rooms. Around them were courtyards with groups of rooms, which probably served as administration offices and servants' quarters. In the palace grounds stood the royal storehouse, in which storage installations and a large numbers of ceramic storage vessels were found.

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Ancient Arad

Stele In the palace's central room, a flat piece of chalk was found, on which two human figures had been incised: one of the figures lying horizontally, the other standing upright; the hands raised, with fingers outstretched; the heads depicted as ears of grain. The scene is known from religious art of the ancient world and is interpreted as representing the Mesopotamian god Tammuz in two phases of the endless cycle of nature: the standing figure represents the half year of regeneration and growth - life; the supine figure symbolizes the half of the year during which plants wither - death. Arad declined and was abandoned in the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE. The reasons for this are not completely clear, but it is assumed that the climate became hotter and drier, adversely influencing the settlements on the fringe of the desert. Also, the nomadic populations of the Negev probably endangered the trade routes, and the security of the city's population.

The Israelite Citadel During the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah (10th-6th centuries BCE), successive citadels were built on the hill of Arad as part of a series of fortifications protecting the trade routes in the Negev and the southern border of the kingdom against marauding nomads. The first of these citadels was built by King Solomon (10th century BCE). It measured 55 x 50 m. and was surrounded by a casemate wall (two parallel walls with cross-walls between them) 5 m. thick, and with a gate protected by two towers in its eastern side. Large towers protruded from the corners and along the wall. Inside the citadel were quarters for the garrison, storerooms, and a temple. A water reservoir cut into the rock beneath the citadel was filled with water from a well dug into the Canaanite reservoir south of the citadel. This well was 4.60 m. in diameter and 21 m. deep, to groundwater level, the upper part carefully lined with stones. The water drawn from the well was carried up the hill by pack animals to an opening in the wall of the citadel, and from there flowed in a channel to the reservoir. In the 9th century BCE, a new citadel was built, surrounded by a massive, 4 m.-thick wall. This citadel, with various modifications, remained in use http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/arad.html (4 of 6)2/11/2004 13:33:26

Ancient Arad

until the Babylonian conquest of the Kingdom of Judah in 587/6 BCE.

The Israelite Temple Located in the northwestern corner of the citadel, the temple comprised three rooms along an east-west axis: ulam (entrance hall), heichal (main hall), and dvir (holy-of-holies). To reach the dvir three steps had to be mounted to an elevated platform, on which a one-meter high stone stele, painted red, stood. Stone altars, 50 cm. high, flanked both sides of the entrance to the dvir. The tops of the altars were concave and in them burnt organic material was found. At the center of the large courtyard in front of the temple was an altar built of bricks and stone, measuring 2.5 x 2.5 m. (5 x 5 biblical amot). It was probably similar to the altar described in the Bible (Deut. 27:5) and to that in the Temple in Jerusalem. (II Chronicles 6:13) The Israelite temple discovered at Arad is the only one known outside of Jerusalem. It was part of the first Israelite citadel there and served as a roadside temple for travelers, merchants and the garrison of the citadel. This temple was destroyed, apparently as a result of the religious reforms of Hezekiah, King of Judah, at the end of the 8th century BCE. (II Kings 18: 4, 22)

Ostraca (inscribed potsherds) Over 100 ostraca inscribed in biblical Hebrew (in paleo-Hebrew script) were found in the citadel of Arad. This is the largest and richest collection of inscriptions from the biblical period ever discovered in Israel. The letters are from all periods of the citadel's existence, but most date to the last decades of the kingdom of Judah. Dates and several names of places in the Negev are mentioned, including Be'er Sheva. Among the personal names are those of the priestly families Pashur and Meremoth, both mentioned in the Bible. (Jeremiah 20:1; Ezra 8:33) Some of the letters were addressed to the commander of the citadel of Arad, Eliashiv ben Ashiyahu, and deal with the distribution of bread (flour), wine and oil to the soldiers serving in the fortresses of the Negev. Seals bearing the inscription "Eliashiv ben Ashiyahu" were also found. Some of the commander's letters (probably "file" copies) were addressed to his superior and deal with the deteriorating security situation in the Negev. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/arad.html (5 of 6)2/11/2004 13:33:26

Ancient Arad

In one of them, he gives warning of an emergency and requests reinforcements to be sent to another citadel in the region to repulse an Edomite invasion. Also, in one of the letters, the "house of YHWH" is mentioned. Inscription 1 To Eliashib: And now, give the Kittiyim 3 baths of wine, and write the name of the day. And from the rest of the first flour, send one homer in order to make bread for them. Give them the wine from the aganoth vessels. Inscription 24 From Arad 50 and from Kin[ah]... and you shall send them to Ramat-Negev by the hand of Malkiyahu the son of Kerab'ur and he shall hand them over to Elisha the son of Yirmiyahu in Ramat-Negev, lest anything should happen to the city. And the word of the king is incumbent upon you for your very life! Behold, I have sent to warn you today: [Get] the men to Elisha: lest Edom should come there. Inscription 40 Your son Gemar[yahu] and Nehemyahu gre[et] Malkiyahu; I have blessed [you to the Lor]d and now: your servant has listened to what [you] have said, and I [have written] to my lord [everything that] the man [wa]nted, [and Eshiyahu ca]me from you and [no] one [gave it to] them. And behold you knew [about the letters from] Edom (that) I gave to [my] lord [before sun]set. And [E]shi[yah]u slept [at my house], and he asked for the letter, [but I didn't gi]ve (it). The King of Judah should know [that w]e cannot send the [..., and th]is is the evil that Edo[m has done].

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Apollonia-Arsuf

Apollonia-Arsuf

Since 1996, wide-scale archeological excavations have been conducted at the site, but mainly in the Crusader fortress, with a view of turning it into a national park. Portions of the city wall and its eastern gate were found, as were the remains of the fortress" defenses and buildings. The Crusader city and fortress, now known as Apollonia-Arsuf, were built on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, some 15 km. north of modern Tel Aviv. Excavations conducted periodically since the 1950s have revealed that a settlement was established on the site during the Persian period (6th-5th centuries BCE), known as Arshuf, after the Canaanite-Phoenician god of fertility and the underworld, Reshef. During the Hellenistic period, Reshef was identified with the Greek god Apollo and hence the name Apollonia. The inhabitants of this ancient town produced a special purple dye derived from murex mollusks and exported it, making use of the natural anchorage. During the Roman period, the size of the town increased; the remains of a large, elegant villa constructed in the finest Roman architectural tradition were uncovered. But it was during the Byzantine period that the town became very prosperous, and expanded to cover an area of about 70 acres. The remains of buildings, industrial installations and an elaborate church of this period have been exposed. In the Early Arab period, when the Semitic name Arsuf was restored to the town, its area decreased to about 22 acres and, for the first time, it was surrounded by a fortified wall with buttresses. Shortly after the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they made their

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Apollonia-Arsuf

first attempt to capture Arsuf. They failed, because of the lack of a fleet to impose a naval blockade. But in the spring of 1101, after only a short battle, the city fell to the Crusader army commanded by Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem. The Crusaders rebuilt the city wall of Arsur (their way of pronouncing the name) and constructed a fortress on the cliffs overlooking the sea. After the defeat of the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin in 1187, Arsuf came under Muslim control, but on 7 September 1191, in a battle fought outside the city between the Crusader army under Richard the LionHeart and the Muslim army under Salah ed-Din (Saladin) the Muslims were defeated. Arsur was once again ruled by the Crusaders, who refortified it in the mid-13th century. Crusader rule came to an end in 1265, when, after a forty-day siege, the city was conquered by the Mamluk ruler Baibars and the defenders of the fortress surrendered. The Muslims razed the city walls and the fortress to their foundations, fearing a return of the Crusaders. The destruction was so complete that the site has not been resettled since, and over the next several hundred years its remains were covered by earth and wind-blown sand.

The Fortifications of the City A portion of the city wall of Apollonia-Arsur and a corner tower were exposed in the southeaestern part of the city. The city-wall was 2.2 m. thick, constructed of well-trimmed kurkar blocks and cement. A 9 m.wide moat protected the wall, its outer edge supported by a stone counter scarp. The city gate was located in the center of the eastern wall. It consisted of two elongated, semi-circular towers that protruded outward from the line of the wall. The towers were widened toward their bases, reaching a diameter of 4.4 m. The 2.2m.-wide gateway was probably reached via a wooden bridge, supported by an arch, over the moat.

The Crusader Fortress The Crusader fortress at Apollonia-Arsur is located in the northwestern corner of the city. The fortress was protected by three fortification networks that included walls with towers and a moat. The walls surrounded the fortress on four sides; in addition, a 30 m.-high cliff in the west provided adequate protection. The fortress was constructed of trimmed kurkar reinforced with cement. Its water supply was assured by large cisterns built below it, in which rainwater was collected. The outer fortification system consisted of a retaining wall, the foundations of which were laid in the bottom of the moat and five semihttp://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Apollonia.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:33:28

Apollonia-Arsuf

circular towers, each 23 m. in diameter, with loopholes for archers. This wall created a solid, wide-based podium on which stood the middle defensive system. A particularly broad moat, up to 30 m. wide and some 14 m. deep, protected the fortification; the outer wall of the moat supported a high counter scarp. A 4.5 m.-wide pilaster protruding from the southeastern corner of the moat and another pilaster located opposite it on the inner side of the moat indicate that there was a wooden drawbridge, which provided access to the fortress over the moat. The middle fortification and the main gate. The 4 m.-thick wall was protected by semi-circular towers. The gate facing east consisted of two elongated apsidal towers, 12 x 4.5 m. each, that widened toward their bases. One entered the towers from the inner courtyard via openings in their western side. The passageway between the towers was paved with rectangular, evenly laid kurkar slabs. Stone benches stood along the walls on both sides of the entrance. The threshold of the gate, made of a marble pillar in secondary use, was exposed in its entirety. The two wooden door wings closing the gate were mounted on iron hinges, one of which was preserved intact. In front of the entrance were pilasters with grooves used to lower an iron net to protect the door. The inner defensive system consisted of 3 m.-wide wall segments that closed the inner courtyard of the fortress. On the western side the courtyard was closed by a sturdy tower, which served as the donjon of the fortress. The inner courtyard, measuring 28 x 10 m., gave access to parts of the inner fortress and to the arched halls beneath it. Around the courtyard were rooms and halls with vaulted roofing and staircases leading to second storeys, which served as the garrison"s barracks. Large, round grindstones were found on the northern side of the courtyard; the kitchen of the fortress (10 x 7 m.) was located in the courtyard"s northwestern corner. It was paved with stone slabs and contained five ovens, two tubs for water, a piped water system and had a small service room. The donjon is located on the western side of the courtyard, opposite the gate. Its upper part, planned as an octagonal tower, was later converted into a square one. It was probably 10 m. high and was intended as a final refuge for the defenders of the fortress. The lower part of this tower consisted of a 4m.-wide, elongated hall, roofed with a graded vault; it opened to the subterranean spaces which led towards the harbor. Significant evidence of the Mamluk siege in 1265 and the ensuing battle to conquer the city and the fortress was found. One of the tunnels, which had been cut beneath the city"s fortifications in an attempt to topple them, was uncovered and massive stones from the collapse were found in the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Apollonia.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:33:28

Apollonia-Arsuf

moat. A huge layer of ash, produced by a conflagration, covered parts of the fortress and large numbers of arrowheads and ballista stone balls were found scattered everywhere. The excavations since 1996 were directed by I. Roll on behalf of Tel Aviv University.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Archaeological Sites in Israel — An Introduction

Archaeological Sites in Israel — An Introduction by Hillel Geva

Archeology provides a valuable link between Israel's past and present. Thousands of sites have been excavated throughout the country, providing an opportunity to study its rich history and shedding light on the culture, society and daily life of its inhabitants throughout the centuries. Jewish history begins with the patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — some 4,000 years ago. Many finds attest to the long connection of the Jewish people with the Land of Israel and highlight the biblical narrative. Excavations have also revealed remains of other civilizations which have left their imprint on the country. The archeological sites included here describe discoveries at selected archeological sites, accompanied by historical notes. The sites were chosen for features of interest rather than for scientific importance and are arranged in geographical order from north to south. It is our intention to provide the interested layperson with an insight into the ongoing study of the past that is carried out in Israel, and it is our hope that this will prove an enriching reading experience.

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Archaeological Sites in Israel — An Introduction

1. Dan: The Biblical City 2. The Roman Boat from the Sea of Galilee 3. Zippori 4. The Monastery of Martyrius 5. Jerusalem — The City of David 6. Jerusalem — Silver Plaques 7. The Western Wall and its Tunnels 8. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher 9. Beersheba — the Southern Border of the Kingdom of Judah 10. The Eilat Region

Recent Archeological Discoveries The Church of “Mary's Seat” The remains of a large Byzantine church (5th - 7th century), octagonal in shape and with multicolored mosaic pavement, was discovered near the highway leading from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. A flat rock in the center of the church is believed to be the Kathisma — the seat where the pregnant Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem — mentioned in early Christian sourses. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/archintro.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:33:32

Archaeological Sites in Israel — An Introduction

Beitsaida A stone stela was exposed at the Iron Age II (9th - 8th century BCE) Beitsaida city gate on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It bears an engraved depiction of a bull-headed warrior armed with a dagger — probably representing the Aramean god Haddad, also known by his biblical name Ba'al, god of rainfall and fertility. Hatzor At Tel Hatzor in Galilee, site of the largest Canaanite city in biblical times (Joshua 11:10), a carved basalt orthostat depicting a lion was uncovered. Dated to the Late Bronze Age (15th - 13th century BCE), it was in secondary use in the Israelite level of the upper city. The orthostat weighs about a ton and is perserved in extremely good condition. It was probably one of a pair of lions that once guarded the entrance to the Canaanite royal palace of Hatzor (an identical lion was exposed in the Canaanite temple of the lower city of Hatzor during excavations in the 1950s). Beit Shean Two monumental Arabic inscriptions, in square Kufic script, were uncovered on the door jambs of the gate to the city's bazaar, built at the beginning of the 8th century by the Umayyad Caliph Abdallah Hisham. The letters are formed by green glass tesserae covered by gold foil and a thin layer of glass. The inscription reads: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. Ordered this building Abdallah Hisham, Commander of the Faithful, [to be built] by the governor Ishaq son of Qabisa (completed?) the year [ ] and one hundred Jerusalem, City of David The remains of an impressive structure of the monarchy period, founded on bedrock and built of very large, roughly hewn rectangular stones, was discovered above the Gihon spring in the Kidron Valley. It is believed to be part of the fortifications built at the end of the First Temple period (8th-7th century BCE) by Menassah, King of Judah, to defend the entrance to the Gihon spring: Now after this he built a wall without the City of David on the west side of the Gihon, in the Valley...(2 Chronicles 33:14)

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Archaeological Sites in Israel — An Introduction

1. Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan 2. Gamala: Jewish City on the Golan 3. Kursi: Christian Monastery on the Shore of the Sea of Galilee 4. The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man 5. Jerusalem: An Inscribed Pomegranate from the Solomonic Temple 6. Jerusalem — Burial Sites and Tombs of the Second Temple Period 7. Jerusalem: The Northern Gate of Aelia Capitolina 8. Jerusalem: Umayyad Administration Center and Palaces 9. Lachish: Royal City of the Kingdom of Judah 10. Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines

Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry: “Jerusalem” in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Sources: Israel Information Center, Jerusalem, September 1997 & January 1998 Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Archeology - 21st Century Style

Archeology - 21st Century Style by Daniella Ashkenazy

Advanced infra-red aerial photography - otherwise used to check water sources, in intelligence surveys and more - is today being employed in archeological excavations in a variety of ways. Leviah, a nine-hectare site from the early bronze period in the southern Golan Heights, was photographed from a helicopter by members of the TAU Geography Department at 3 AM in mid-winter. The camera picked up heat stored by rocks close to the surface that cooled slower than the surrounding soil, and revealed the outlines of walls close to the surface. The following summer, an untouched 100 square meter section of Leviah was excavated and compared with the aerial photograph. The excavation showed that remote sensory infra-red photography had revealed the presence of 80% of the basalt walls close to the surface. The sections of the walls that were "missed" by the sensitive camera were sections that had collapsed or been buried under debris. When the walls were exposed, it became apparent that the whole excavated area had been entirely built up, and had contained multi-roomed buildings and courtyards. The archeological team, headed by Professors Pirhyia Beck and Moshe Kochavi of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archeology, thus concluded that the site was a densely-settled Canaanite town, not a sparsely-populated agrarian settlement with shelters for animals, as many had previously postulated. This discovery, along with the fact that there are some twenty similar sites on the Golan Heights, indicates that the Golan may have been one of the more prosperous and populous areas in the Land of Israel in ancient times. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/modarch.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:33:34

Archeology - 21st Century Style

DNA testing - another modern procedure - was employed during an excavation in Ashkelon on the coast, when a Hebrew University archeological team headed by Professors Ariella Oppenheim and Patricia Smith came upon 100 skeletons of infants in an ancient sewer leading from a bathhouse from the late Roman or Byzantine periods. The team found a Greek inscription in the bathhouse, reading "Enter, enjoy and..." indicating that the establishment might also have served as a brothel, a common feature of the times. At the same excavation site, vessels containing infant remains who had received far more respectful treatment were also unearthed. The bones of the infants at the bathhouse, though, were found mixed with animal bones, pottery shards and coins without any sign of orderly burial. Examination of the size and dental development of the skeletons by Professor Charles Greenblatt of the University's medical and dentistry school confirmed that all were newborn infants. Both findings strengthened assumptions they had been victims of infanticide. Killing of female offspring was widespread practice of the Romans. Male infanticide was, however, a rarity. Thus, when researchers sent 19 left femoral bones for DNA testing, they were surprised to find that 14 of the infants were male and only five female. This anomaly led researchers to postulate that what they had found were the remains of offspring born to courtesans working at the bathhouse, rather than the "unwanted" female offspring of residents of the busy port city. It has been suggested that DNA testing could also be applied to doublecheck whether the Dead Sea Scrolls on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem were pieced together correctly. Since the scrolls are written on parchment, it would be possible to see if fragments matched together indeed came from the same piece of parchment. In another case of modern archeology, researchers using a portable infrared spectrometer discovered what may possibly be one of the oldest "garbage dumps" in the history of mankind. The archeologists believed that the piles of deer, gazelle and wild cattle bones found in areas of the Keraba cave on Mount Carmel were the leftovers of Stone Age dinners. This seemed to indicate that prehistoric man divided his living space into different areas for particular activities - building fires at the entrance, with living quarters at the back. But, no one knew for certain whether these bone concentrations were intentional or whether animal bones were absent from other areas because they had been dissolved by groundwater over the ages. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/modarch.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:33:34

Archeology - 21st Century Style

To solve this question, Professors Paul Goldberg of the University of Texas and Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard mobilized an expert in biomineralization - Professor Stephen Weiner of the Weizmann Institute's Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research. Weiner used his knowledge of biomineralization - the process by which bones, teeth and other inorganic structures form in living organisms - as a basis for determining what had happened tens of thousands of years ago. Armed with a computer equipped with special software for mineral identification and a portable infrared spectrometer, Weiner was able to look for traces of minerals associated with the presence of bones in other areas of the cave. The examination found that the other areas never contained bones. The logical conclusion: Prehistoric man had yet to be harnessed into "taking out the garbage" after dinner. Cavewomen maintained a clean hearth by prevailing standards content to throw the remains of dinner into designated piles in the corners of their caves....

Source: Israel Magazine-On-Web, May 1998,: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Archaeology of Jerusalem Table of Contents

Archaeology of Jerusalem

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Area G Biblical Jerusalem: From Canaanite City to Israelite Capital Biblical Jerusalem: The Growth of Judean Jerusalem Biblical Jerusalem: Solomon’s Temple The Broad Wall The Citadel of Jerusalem The City of David The Church of the Holy Sepulcher ❍ Muslims to Lose Sole Control of Holy Sepulcher Keys Four Periods in the History of Jerusalem Hezekiah’s Tunnel Hinnom Flank Jerusalem: An Inscribed Pomegranate from the Solomonic Temple Jerusalem: Architecture in the British Mandate Period Jerusalem: Architecture in the Late Ottoman Period Jerusalem - Binyane Ha'uma Ceramics Workshop Jerusalem — Burial Sites and Tombs of the Second Temple Period Jerusalem: Christian Architecture through the Ages Jerusalem — The City of David Jerusalem: Elaborate Buildings of the Mamluk Period Jerusalem — The Herodian Street Along the Western Wall Jerusalem — The Nea Church and the Cardo Jerusalem: The Northern Gate of Aelia Capitolina Jerusalem — Silver Plaques Jerusalem: Stone Vessel Workshop of the Second Temple Period

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Archaeology of Jerusalem Table of Contents ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Jerusalem: Umayyad Administration Center and Palaces Jerusalem: The Upper City During the Second Temple Period Jerusalem - Water Systems of Biblical Times A Monastery on the Mount of Olives Robinson's Arch Siloam Inscription Warren’s Shaft The Western Wall

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Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev

Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev

Avdat is located on a mountain ridge in the center of the Negev highlands. At this point, where the routes from Petra (in present-day Jordan) and Eilat converge and continue to the Mediterranean coast, the Nabateans established a road station for their caravans. The little we know about the Nabateans comes from Roman historians and geographers. They were nomadic tribes from northern Arabia who wandered and traded, then established permanent settlements and finally created an independent kingdom with Petra, in the mountains of Edom, as their capital. At the climax of their power, from the first century BCE to the first century CE, the Nabatean kings ruled regions that today belong to Jordan, Syria, and Israel. Their contact with the Hellenistic world had great influence on their material culture, uniquely manifest in their architecture. The Nabateans accumulated great wealth from their trade in costly perfumes and spices from East Africa and Arabia which they transported by camel caravans to the southern Mediterranean coast, with Gaza serving as the main depot and port. The Negev was the direct overland link to the Mediterranean coast, and the Nabatean way stations at the main crossroads in the Negev, developed into cities. In this inhospitable desert region, the Nabateans developed an agriculture based on terraces built on the hillsides. To capture flood waters, they constructed dams in the valleys; to collect rain water, they cut cisterns in the rock. These measures, initiated by the Nabatean central administration, established their control over the Negev and guaranteed the caravans’ safe passage. The Nabatean kingdom was conquered by the Romans in 106 CE and annexed to the Roman Empire. Devoid of its caravan trade, Avdat fell into http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Avdat.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:33:37

Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev

decline. In the third century it became a short-lived settlement which was destroyed in the earthquake of 363. In the sixth century, under Byzantine rule, a citadel and a monastery with two churches were built on the acropolis and residential quarters were established on the slopes. This city was destroyed, probably by earthquake, and abandoned in the seventh century. The main excavations at Avdat were carried out between 1958 and 1961. From then and until 1993, further limited excavations were conducted, which resulted in the discovery of many artifacts, including tens of inscriptions which greatly contribute to our knowledge of the city’s history and culture during the different phases of its existence.

Nabatean Avdat Avdat was founded in the 1st century BCE and named after the Nabatean King Obodas who was revered as a deity and, according to tradition, was buried there. His name is preserved in the city’s Arabic name, Abdah. On the acropolis of Avdat, the Nabateans built a temple complex and public buildings which were visible from afar and served as a landmark to the caravaneers. Atop the spur east of the acropolis, Nabatean Avdat also included a residential quarter, a military camp and various pens in which camels, sheep and goats were kept, and horses – which became famous as racehorses – were bred. The early temple of Obodas was built at the end of the first century BCE, on the southern side of the acropolis. It’s dimensions were 14 x 11 m. and it was partly preserved under the southwestern tower of the Byzantine fort. It consisted of a porch, a hall and an adyton at its northern end. The latter was divided into two rooms, in which the two main Nabatean dieties, Dushara and Allat were worshipped. A new temple was built on the acropolis towards the end of the 1st century CE, of which only the podium, constructed of three strong retaining walls which surrounded the edge of the cliff, remain. An elaborate entranceway (10 x 6 m.) was built at the lower southwestern corner of the podium from which one acscended to the temple via a spiral staircase that wound around a thick central pier. In the debris of the entranceway numerous inscriptions were found, including some mentioning the Nabatean King Haretat (Aretas). Many column sections bearing masons’ marks which were found in secondary use in later buildings, apparently belonged to the columns of http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Avdat.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:33:37

Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev

the temple’s exedra, of which only some stone pavement on the podium has been preserved. Northeast of the acropolis was a military camp which housed the riders of the camel corps units which protected the caravan routes. The camp measured 100 x 100 m. and was surrounded by a wall with corner towers and a gate. A unique find of the Nabataean period is the pottery workshop at Avdat. This building covered 140 sq.m. and included a room for preparing the clay and a room with a potter’s wheel and a kiln for firing. An abundance of pottery, including Nabatean painted ware, delicately decorated with reddishbrown floral patterns, was found here.

Roman Avdat In the middle of the 3rd century, Avdat was resettled as part of the southern defense system of Roman Palestine. It became an important military outpost and permanent settlement of nomads of Arabian origin was encouraged. On the acropolis, a temple to Zeus Oboda (Zeus of the city of Oboda) was erected in 267-8 which, like the previous Nabatean temple, was dismantled and its stones used in Byzantine buildings. The residential quarter of the Roman city included several dozen dwellings on the spur southeast of the acropolis. These were courtyard-type houses, built along narrow, intersecting streets. The rooms were roofed in an interesting fashion: two, three or four arches supported roofing of long, flat stone slabs, the length of which determined the distance between the arches – a creative solution to the absence of local wood!

Byzantine Avdat Avdat reached the peak of its prosperity during the 6th century. The city had an estimated population of 3,000 and continued to serve as an outpost in the defense of the Negev. An effort was also made to renew the Arab caravan trade and new agricultural crops were grown; several winepresses which have been excavated, indicate intensive vine cultivation in the region. The acropolis area was completely rebuilt, destroying and burying the remains of the temples and buildings of the Nabatean and Roman periods. The acropolis was divided into a religious area – the monastery – in the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Avdat.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:33:37

Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev

west and a citadel in the east. Two churches and service buildings were constructed in the acropolis monastery. The northern church, in basilical style, was reached through an atrium with a cistern and had a single apse. Behind it, to the west, was a baptismal font in cruciform shape and a smaller font for baptizing infants. The more important southern church had three apses on the eastern side. In the floor are reliquaries for the remains of local saints. In the floor of the prayer hall of the church are the tombs of clerical dignitaries. Inscriptions on stone slabs covering the tombs, dating from 542 to 618, provide information regarding the Byzantine Christian community of Avdat. One of the inscriptions records the name of the church: the Martyrion of St. Theodorus. Theodorus, also known from other inscriptions, served as abbot of the monastery at Avdat and was buried in the southern church. On the eastern side of the acropolis, a citadel was built at the beginning of the Byzantine period, for protection against marauding nomads. The fortress (60 x 40 m.) was surrounded by a wall with three towers on each side and a gate connecting it with the monastery. A large cistern was cut into the rock in the center of the citadel courtyard. On its northern side was a small chapel for the use of the soldiers garrisoned here. In the renewed excavations during the 1990s, a long section of a massive stone wall along the eastern edge of the site, not protected by cliffs, was found. The wall was 1.20 m. thick and had a well-built gate. The Byzantine residential quarter included numerous buildings on the slopes below the acropolis. They were erected on several terraces and included, behind the buildings, caves cut into the soft limestone of the hillside. The structures excavated included courtyards and rooms roofed with arches covered over with stone slabs. In the caves, storage spaces were cut and even a winepress was found in one of them. Some of the caves were decorated with carved bulls’ heads. Also found were inscriptions in red paint including a cross. One inscription is a request to St. Theodorus, patron of the city, for protection against the evil eye. Excavations: 1958 – M. Avi Yonah and 1959-61 – A. Negev on behalf of the National Parks Authority and the Hebrew University; 1975-77 – A. Negev and R. Cohen on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Avdat.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:33:37

Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev

Hebrew University; 1989 – A. Negev on behalf of the Hebrew University; 1992-93 – G. Tahal, O. Katz and P. Fabian on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority; 1999 – renewed excavations by P. Fabian on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan

Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan The remains of the city of Banyas (Arabic pronunciation of Panias) are located in northern Israel, at the foot of Mt. Hermon. Here, below a steep cliff, the cold waters of the Banyas spring, one of the sources of the Jordan River, gush forth. According to written sources, Banyas was first settled in the Hellenistic period. The Ptolemaic kings, in the 3rd century BCE, built a cult center to counter the Semitic one at Dan to the south, which indeed gradually declined. Then, in 200 BCE, the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III defeated the Ptolemaic army in this region and captured Banyas. Almost 200 years later, in 20 BCE, the region which included Banyas was annexed to the Kingdom of Herod the Great and was ruled by his successors until the end of the first century CE. In the year 2 BCE, Herod Philip founded a pagan city and named it Caesarea Philippi (in honor of Augustus Caesar). It became the capital of his large kingdom which spread across the Golan and the Hauran. Contemporary sources refer to the city as Caesarea Panias; the New Testament as Caesarea Philippi. (Matt. 16:13) During the Roman period, the center of the city spread over a plateau measuring 300 x 300 m., with natural features protecting it on three sides. At its peak, it extended even beyond these natural boundaries. From the fourth century and until the Arab conquest, Panias functioned as an important Christian center. During the Arab period, the city was the district capital of the Golan in the province of Damascus and its name was changed to Banyas. During Fatimid rule in the 11th century, fortifications were constructed. Then the Crusaders, who ruled the town from 1129, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/banyas.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:33:39

Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan

surrounded it with a massive ring of fortifications. However, after repeated attacks, the city was conquered by Nur ed-Din of Damascus in 1164. Fearing that it might again serve as a Crusader fortress, the fortifications were dismantled at the beginning of the 13th century and are, therefore, only partly visible. Banyas gradually lost its importance. Today there is a Druze holy place (Weli Sheikh Khader) in a whitewashed building on the cliff overlooking the spring. Since 1967, but mainly during the last ten years, major excavations at the site have focused upon two areas: the remains of the sanctuary complex to the god Pan; and the center of the city - the latter continue to the present. The temenos (sacred precinct) dedicated to Pan was constructed on an elevated, 80 m. long natural terrace along a cliff which towered over the north of the city. At its western end is a large grotto which has been regarded as sacred to Pan since the Hellenistic period. At the foot of the sacred precinct is the spring, a major component in the site's sanctity. The cult site to the god Pan derives from the juxtaposition of natural features which include forest, spring and cave. From time immemorial, the site had been visited by wandering shepherds who worshiped at the cave and the spring. The excavations uncovered remains of a cult center dedicated to the god Pan which developed in several phases during the Roman period. The temenos included a temple, courtyards, a grotto and niches for rituals. Several decorated niches were cut into the rock cliff, in which statues probably stood in the past. Inscriptions, mentioning donors, were carved between the niches. Of the temples which stood here, only the foundations survived. Following the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, this pagan cult center which had existed throughout the Byzantine period was destroyed and the ashlars of the walls removed for re-use.

The Temple of Zeus Opposite the entrance to the sacred grotto, Herod the Great, in 19 BCE, built a temple in honor of his patron, Augustus Caesar, described by the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus Flavius (The Jewish War I: 404405). This temple was 20 m. long and had two parallel walls, 10.5 m. apart. Cult niches which once contained sculptures were found along the inner faces of the walls, which also served as retaining walls. This semihttp://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/banyas.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:33:39

Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan

subterranean building also provided access to the sacred grotto behind the temple. This temple, only partly preserved, is depicted on contemporary coins minted by the city, showing a facade decorated with four Ionic columns.

The Court of Pan and the Nymphs During the first century CE another shrine, dedicated to Pan and the Nymphs, was constructed east of the Temple of Augustus. This building consisted of three especially thick walls with cement foundations; it abutted the cliff on its north, creating a rectangular enclosure measuring 15 x 10 m. which apparently served as an open-air shrine. A small grotto was cut into the rock cliff behind it and, in a later period, niches for statues were added. A Greek inscription indicates that these niches date to the year 148: "The priest Victor, son of Lysimachos, dedicated this goddess to the god Pan, lover of Echo."

The Temple of Zeus and the Nemesis Courtyard Around the year 100 (the 100th anniversary of Panias), during the reign of Trajanus Caesar, a Temple of Zeus was built at Banyas, east of the previous one. The temple consisted of two rooms: a hall measuring 8.25 x 7.6 m. which was originally covered with colored marble slabs and a 4.25 m.- wide front porch. The facade of the building was decorated with four columns with Corinthian capitals of especially fine workmanship. It has been suggested that rituals were also carried out on the roof of the building, opposite the niches cut into the cliff face. A 4 m.-wide paved courtyard, approached from the south by a broad staircase, was dedicated to Nemesis, goddess of revenge and justice, whose cult was popular in the region. A carved niche in the rock cliff above it bears the inscription: "For the preservation of our lords the emperors, Valerios [Titi]anos, priest of god Pan, dedicated to the lady Nemesis and her Shrine which was made by cutting away the rock underneath... with the iron fence in the month of Apellaios."

Temple Tomb of the Goats In the third century, a cultic building for the burial of the bones of the sacred goats was erected at the eastern end of the sacred precinct. The structure was divided into three long halls oriented north-south. Along the walls of the central hall (which measures 12.5 x 6.6 m.) were two low galleries supported by rectangular niches (0.6 sq. m. each) opening onto http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/banyas.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:33:39

Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan

the central hall. The niches contained sherds and a large quantity of animal bones, mainly of sheep and goats, bringing to mind the cult of the sacred goats related to the god Pan, as depicted on Roman coins of the city of Panias. These finds suggest that the structure was used as a templetomb for the interment of the bones of the sacred goats, whose cult was probably practiced in the buildings excavated at Banyas. The temple was found covered by a mound of debris with an abundance of fragments of statues and statuettes, among them Athena, Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, Dionysos and Pan. The best-preserved statue (restored from two fragments) is that of a half life-size Artemis with a hunting dog attacking a hare at her feet. The statues and statuettes were probably offerings brought to the sacred precinct and destroyed as an act of antipaganism at the end of the Byzantine period or in the early Arab period. The Banyas National Park, which includes the excavated and restored archeological remains, is a unique tourist attraction, with a combination of wild natural beauty: cliffs, mountains, forest and an abundance of flowing water.

The excavations were directed by Zvi Ma'oz on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Be'er Shema - The Church of St. Stephen

Be'er Shema - The Church of St. Stephen by Hillel Geva

Located in the western Negev, some 25 km. west of Be'er Sheva, Horvat Be'er Shema (Hebrew, Ruins of Be'er Shema) was a large village during the Roman-Byzantine period. Its ancient name - Birsama - was mentioned in writings of that period as an important fortress, which served as the administrative center of a region known as Gerar (see below, the inscription found in the church). The fortress and the village, on the main road from the east to the port of Gaza, covered an area of about 100 acres. Wells dug into the aquifer ensured its water supply. In 1989-1990 the remains of a 6th - early 7th century Byzantine church, measuring 21 x 12.5 m., were uncovered. It stood on a 2 m.-high podium and was part of a large monastic complex, of which not much has been exposed. The walls of the church - only 2-3 courses remain today - were constructed of well-trimmed stones covered with white plaster. This basilical church faced east. At its entrance was a narthex paved in stone, from which three openings led to the prayer hall, divided by two rows of five columns into a nave and two aisles. The columns supported balconies above the aisles, which were protected by a stone balustrade, fragments of which have been found. The roof was made of wooden beams, as evidenced by the many, large iron nails found in the debris. Also uncovered was the hexagonal base of a freestanding ambo (pulpit), next to a column in the northern row. Three broad steps led to a raised bema - a square platform (5 x 5 m.) in the eastern part of the church, opposite a row of columns. On the platform stood the altar, of which only the foundations remain. Originally, it was built of stone and faced with http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Shema.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:33:42

Be'er Shema - The Church of St. Stephen

marble. In the thick eastern wall of the church, beyond the platform, was an apse and small rooms (3.5 x 3.5 m.) on both sides of it. They probably served for storage of cultic objects; their floors had hexagonal depressions lined with marble, obviously reliquaries - containers for sacred relics.

The Mosaics The two aisles were paved with stone tiles; the rest of the church with elaborate, beautifully preserved mosaics in a variety of colors, as well as inscriptions. The nave. The rectangular carpet of the nave has particularly rich motifs. It is surrounded by a frame with three bands: the two outer bands are decorated with lotus flowers, the inner band with a geometric design. The carpet inside the frame has 55 medallions arranged in 5 rows of 11, covering the length of the nave. The medallions are created by vines with leaves and clusters of grapes that emanate from an amphora at the western edge of the carpet, at the entrance to the church. Two lions, on either side of the amphora, face each other. The spaces between the medallions are filled with birds: a partridge, a hoopoe, a dove and a quail. Human figures, animals and objects are depicted in the medallions, the figures in the rows to the right and left facing the central row. The mosaic is of high artistic quality: the figures are depitcted realistically and in motion, and the clothing in great detail. Among the human figures are a nursing woman, a man playing an oboe, a man leaning on a cane, a man leading an elephant on which a dark-skinned man rides, and men leading a giraffe, a donkey and a laden camel. The animals include a goat, a partridge, a lioness, a bull, a pair of doves in a dovecote, a dog chasing a fox, another chasing a rabbit, a bird in a cage, a bear, a duck, a leopard hunting a deer, a wolf hunting an ibex, a puppy, a snake fighting a marten and a peacock. The objects include a basket of fruit and one of grapes. Between the nave and the bema, in frames composed of a meander of circles and rhomboids, are two inscriptions. The bema. The carpet decorating the bema is unique in its beauty, with blue, green and brown glass elements. It consists of two frames and a fiveline inscription in front of the altar. The outer frame is a chain composed of alternating round and square links. The inner frame is made of 22 medallions containing a variety of geometric meanders. A rectangular room with a semi-circular baptismal font made of plastered stones (which had been faced with marble) was found south of the church;

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Be'er Shema - The Church of St. Stephen

leading to the bottom of the basin were four broad steps. The baptismal font was surrounded by mosaics in geometric designs, including a cross and an inscription. In front of the basin is a square mosaic carpet with rows of heart-shaped leaves, surrounded by a belt of interlocking geometric forms.

The Inscriptions Ten Greek inscriptions are incorporated in the floor of the church, most of them dedicatory. The names of male and female donors appear in the inscriptions, among them names of Arabs, attesting to the conversion of local nomads to Christianity. The name Stephanos, who built the church and dedicated it to St. Stephanos (regarded as the first martyr), appears in several of them. A dedicatory inscription of geographic-historical significance was discovered in the baptisterium; it mentions the donors and includes the name of the region - Gerar. The excavation at Horvat Be'er Shema was conducted in 1989-1990 by D. Gazit and Y. Lender on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Be’er Sheva: Prehistoric Dwelling Sites

Be’er Sheva: Prehistoric Dwelling Sites

Remains of several Chalcolithic settlements dating to the 4th millennium BCE were uncovered a short distance from one another along both sides of Nahal Be’er Sheva, in an area which is today within the city limits of Be’er Sheva. Excavation of these sites was conducted in 1951-1960 at Be’er Matar, Be’er Safad and Horvat Batar. Near the latter, an additional site, Neve Noy, was excavated in 1982. The uniqueness of these sites is that each consisted of up to 10 units of subterranean dwellings, dug into the soft loess deposits on the banks of Nahal Be’er Sheva. The sites became well known for the many special finds associated with them and this local culture came to be known as the Be’er Sheva Chalcolithic Culture. The standard dwelling unit consisted of round or ovoid chambers dug below ground level, measuring ca. 7 x 3 m. They were accessible via inclined tunnels dug from shallow pits on the surface, which measured ca. 3 m. in diameter. These pits, in the view of the excavators, also served as courtyards in which daily activities took place, since they contained a variety of bell-shaped silos, basins and hearths. In the subterranean chambers, with niches of various sizes cut into the walls, storage facilities were found. There were also several small, subterranean rooms, elliptical in shape and connected by galleries. The main entrance to these was via a shaft dug to a depth of several meters below the surface. Small niches cut into its sides served as hand and footholds for those going down and climbing up. Because of the constant danger of collapse, stone supports were constructed in some of the rooms to strengthen the sides, and wooden shafts to support the roof.

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Be’er Sheva: Prehistoric Dwelling Sites

A large number of varied objects, in many materials, was found at the Nahal Be’er Sheva sites, indicating an advanced material culture. The pottery in this period is still rather primitive. It is handmade of local, light colored clay containing much sand, and the vessels are of simple form, sometimes with red line decorations. Many stone tools were found, including large chisels and axes made from pebbles; also finer flint tools, such as scrapers, borers, knives, sickle blades and a few arrow and lance heads. The basalt stoneware is of interest, as the material was brought from a considerable distance. Notable are conical bowls with flat bases of exceptionally high quality. Their sides were smoothed and herringbone designs incised on them. Copper artifacts, for every day use such as axes, chisels and awls, were made by the inhabitants themselves. The copper ores were probably imported from Edom in Transjordan; rock anvils for crushing the ores, and fireplaces with slag indicate that metallurgical activities were conducted at the sites. The most famous finds from the Chalcolithic Be’er Sheva Culture are ivory figurines. Evidence from a local workshop suggests that they were made locally, of imported raw material. Among the figurines are some of over 30 cm. in height; the craftsmanship is impressive with attention paid to anatomical details. Some of the figurines are peculiarly elongated and thin, with arms extended downward along the body; numerous holes drilled in the cheeks and chin of the faces indicate that hair was inserted to resemble facial hair. Archeologists believe that the subterranean dwellings were a partial answer to the high temperatures prevailing in the Be’er Sheva Valley. The population consisted of several extended families, semi-nomadic, engaged in fledgling agriculture and domestication of animals, a lifestyle which made permanent settlement possible. The finds show that cereals (wheat and barley) and pulses were important ingredients of their diet. Surpluses of food were stored in the silos of the subterranean dwellings. Goats and sheep were raised, as evidenced by the bones found, but hunted game played only a minor role in the diet. It is assumed that the flocks were led in the summer months in search of grazing lands and returned to the dwelling sites at the onset of winter. During these migrations, the inhabitants sealed the entrances to their dwellings with earth and stones, leaving the implements not used during

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Be’er Sheva: Prehistoric Dwelling Sites

the wanderings. Clearly, some never returned and thus, some of the rooms remained blocked; others filled with silt or were buried by collapse. Excavations: 1951-1960 – J. Perrot on behalf of the French Archaeological Mission in Israel; 1952-1954 – M. Dothan on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities (today, the Israel Antiquities Authority); 1982 – I. Eldar and Y. Baumgarten on behalf of the Archeological Survey of Israel.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Beersheba — the Southern Border of the Kingdom of Judah

Beersheba — the Southern Border of the Kingdom of Judah Tel Sheva, the mound of biblical Beersheba, is located in the northern Negev, several kilometers east of the present-day city of Be'er Sheva. The Arabic name of the mound, Tell es-Sab'a, preserves the biblical name; the archeological finds support its identification with biblical Beersheba. The ancient town was built on a low hill on the bank of a wadi (dry riverbed), which carries floodwater during the winter months. A close-to-thesurface aquifer along the wadi ensured the year-round supply of water. Beersheba is first mentioned in the biblical account of God's revelation to the patriarchs (Gen. 26:23-25; 46:1) and its name is derived from the Hebrew word shevu'a (oath) or shiv'a (seven) as elaborated in Gen. 21:31 and 26:33. Beersheba symbolized the southern boundary of the Land of Israel, as in the phrase from Dan to Beersheba. (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; and 1 Kings 5:5) A large area of the site was excavated between 1969 and 1976, producing several layers of the remains of settlement, including fortified towns of the early Israelite period and the monarchic period of Judah, covered by remnants of small fortresses dated from the Persian to the Roman periods. The earliest remains of settlement at Beersheba are a number of rockhewn dwellings (12th-11th centuries BCE) and a 20 m.-deep well supplying fresh water to the inhabitants of the first permanent unfortified settlement of Israelites of the Tribe of Simon. (Joshua 19:2) By the end of the 11th century BCE, a fortified settlement was established at Beersheba with the houses built close to one another on the hill's http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/beersheva.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:33:46

Beersheba — the Southern Border of the Kingdom of Judah

summit, forming an outer, circular defensive wall with only a narrow opening for a gate. The houses opened inwards, towards a central square, where livestock was kept. In the mid-10th century BCE, during the monarchic period, the first large fortified city was established at Beersheba, to serve as the administrative center of the southern region of the kingdom. Its area extended over some 10 dunams (2.8 acres) of the hill's summit. It was a planned city, fortified by a solid wall of mudbrick on stone foundations. The city gate, with a four-chambered gatehouse, is typical of Israelite military architecture of that period. The plan of this city, on broad lines, was preserved throughout the next 300 years, during which time it was rebuilt several times. In the 9th century BCE, a new city wall was erected on the remains of the previous one. The new casemate wall was composed of two parallel walls with a narrow space between them which was divided into small rooms, creating living and storage spaces within the wall. The uppermost layer of the mound revealed the 8th century BCE city of Beersheba, a remarkable example of provincial town planning and indicative of the importance of the city for the defense of the southern border of the Kingdom of Judah at the end of the monarchic period. The area of the walled city was divided into quarters; peripheral, circular streets followed the course of the city wall and a main street cut through the center of the town; and all the streets met at the square inside its gate. A planned drainage system was constructed beneath the streets to collect rainwater into a central channel, which carried it under the city gate and outside into the well. An impressive water system was also constructed in the northeast of the city, within the wall, with a stone staircase leading down to a water chamber cut deep into the rock. This sophisticated system assured a regular water supply even in times of long siege. In the eastern part of the city stood a complex of three pillared structures covering an area of 600 m2. This served as the city's storehouse, as is evident from its ground-plan, its location near the city gate and from the hundreds of pottery vessels, including many large storage jars, found there. Next to the city gate also stood the governor's palace, with many rooms and three large reception halls. Most of the dozens of houses in the city were built uniformly, with four rooms, one of which served as a courtyard. They were located along the streets and, in the houses abutting the city wall, one room was built into the narrow space in the casemate walls. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/beersheva.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:33:46

Beersheba — the Southern Border of the Kingdom of Judah

The population of Beersheba in the 8th century BCE is estimated at 400500, including officials and soldiers of the army of Judah stationed in Beersheba, the regional capital of the south. A large horned altar was uncovered at the site. It was reconstructed with several well-dressed stones found in secondary use in the walls of a later building. This altar attests to the existence of a temple or cult center in the city which was probably dismantled during the reforms of King Hezekiah. (1 Kings 18:4) The city of Beer-sheba was destroyed by King Sennacherib of Assyria, during his campaign against Judah in 701 BCE. During the 7th century BCE a small settlement existed on the site, its poor and sparse construction indicative of royal neglect; it came to an end when the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 587-6 BCE.

*The site was excavated by Y. Aharoni and the last season by Z. Herzog, on behalf of Tel Aviv University.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Beit Alpha

Beit Alpha

The ancient synagogue of Beit Alpha is located in the Beit She'an Valley, in the north-east of the country. The nearby ruins of Khirbet Beit Ilfa preserve the ancient name. The mosaic floor of the synagogue was discovered in 1929, when members of Kibbutz Beit Alpha dug irrigation channels for their fields. Excavations were carried out the same year, exposing mosaics preserved intact for almost 1,500 years. Later excavations, in the early 1960s, exposed remains of some houses, indicating that the synagogue had stood in a Jewish village of the Byzantine period (5th-6th centuries). The synagogue is oriented southwards, toward Jerusalem. It measures 20 x 14 m. and consists of a courtyard (atrium), a vestibule (narthex) and a prayer hall. The walls are of undressed stone, with plastered inner and outer faces. The courtyard is reached from the street, via an opening in its western wall. It measures 10 x 7 m. and is paved with mosaics in geometric designs. The 2.5 m.-wide vestibule has two doors in its northern wall facing the courtyard and three doorways in its southern wall providing access to the prayer hall. Its mosaic floor is also in geometric patterns. The prayer hall measures 10 x 8 m. and is divided by two rows of stonebuilt pillars into a central nave and two side aisles. The pillars probably supported the arches and the gabled roof of the synagogue. Scholars

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Beit Alpha

assume that there was a second storey above the two aisles and the vestibule, serving as a women's gallery. Benches were built along the long walls and along the southern wall of the prayer hall. A door in the western wall led into a side room. An apse, a rounded raised recess 2.4 m. deep, was built into the southern wall of the synagogue and served as a bema on which the Torah Ark stood, with three steps leading up to it. At a later time, another bema in the shape of a bench was added between the two southern pillars on the eastern side of the prayer hall. A one meter-deep depression lined with stones below the floor of the bema probably served as the synagogue's treasury. When opened during the excavations it contained thirty-six Byzantine bronze coins. The mosaic floor of the prayer hall The entire prayer hall is paved in mosaic. The floor of the western aisle is decorated with squares in geometric patterns; the eastern aisle is entirely paved in undecorated white mosaic. Two dedicatory inscriptions, one in Aramaic and one in Greek, are situated just inside the main entrance to the prayer hall, flanked by a lion and a bull facing each other. The Aramaic inscription states that the mosaic floor was laid during the reign of Emperor Justin (probably Justin I, beginning of the 6th century) and that the cost was covered by donations from members of the community. The Greek inscription reads: May the craftsmen who carried out this work, Marianos and his son Hanina, be held in remembrance. The colorful mosaic floor of the nave is divided into three distinct panels, all enclosed by a decorated band with a variety of motifs: geometric patterns, fruit, birds and animals. The panels depict, from north to south: The binding of Isaac as described in Genesis 22:1-19. On the right is an altar with flames rising from it. Abraham stands next to it, one hand holding his son Isaac and the other a long knife. The names of Abraham and Isaac are inscribed above the figures. A hand emerges from a cloud above Abraham and Isaac, symbolizing the angel of God. Nearby are the Hebrew words meaning "lay not your hand [upon the lad]". The ram and the two servants with the donkey are depicted behind Abraham.

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The Zodiac appears in the central panel. These astrological signs, though condemned by the prophets, were widely used as decorative elements in both churches and synagogues of the Byzantine period. The twelve signs are arranged in a circle and accompanied by their Hebrew names. In the center of the zodiac, the sun god Helios is represented seated in a chariot drawn by four horses. The four seasons appear in the corners of the panel in the form of busts of winged women wearing jewels; they are inscribed with the Hebrew months initiating each season: Nisan (spring), Tamuz (summer), Tishri (autumn) and Tevet (winter).

The Torah Ark is depicted in the rear panel in front of the apse, with a gabled roof and behind a curtain. On either side of the ark is a lit menorah (candelabrum), and traditional Jewish ritual objects: shofar (ram's horn), lulav (palm branch), ethrog (citron) and incense shovel. The ark is protected on both sides by heraldic lions. The splendid mosaic floor of the ancient synagogue of Beit Alpha is one of the finest uncovered in Israel. It is unique in both motifs and workmanship. The synagogue itself was small and simply built, but its mosaics represent a folk art that is striking, very colorful and rich in motifs. The synagogue was in use during the Byzantine and the Early http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Beitalpha.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:33:48

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Islamic periods (7th-8th centuries). The remains of the synagogue and its mosaic floors have been preserved in a new, covered structure which is open to visitors. The excavations were directed by E.L. Sukenik assisted by N. Avigad on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry. Photos courtesy of Jack Hazut.

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Beit Govrin - A Roman Amphitheater

Beit Govrin - A Roman Amphitheater by Hillel Geva

The remains of a Roman amphitheater at Beit Govrin (known in the Roman period as Eleutheropolis) in the Judean flatlands southwest of Jerusalem, were uncovered in the mid-1990s. The amphitheater was built in the 2nd century, on the northwestern outskirts of the then city of Beit Govrin. It is an elliptical structure (71 x 56 m.), built of large, rectangular limestone ashlars. It had a walled arena of packed earth, with subterranean galleries. The arena was surrounded by a series of connected barrel vaults, which formed a long, circular corridor and supported the stone seats above it; staircases led from the outside and from the circular corridor to the tribunes. A vaulted room (3.8 x 3.2 m.) beneath the western tribune probably served for cultic purposes (sacellum). It contained two votive incense altars, one bearing a Greek dedicatory inscription, and over a hundred oil lamps. This amphitheater, in which gladiatorial contests took place, could seat about 3,500 spectators. It was built for the Roman troops stationed in the region after the suppression of the Bar Kochba rebellion (132 - 135) and was in use until destroyed by earthquake in 363. It is located in the national park of Beit Govrin, has been partially restored and is open to the public. Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/govrin.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:33:50

Beit Govrin - A Roman Amphitheater

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Beit She'an

Beit She'an

The Earliest Settlements Egyptian Administration Center The Canaanite City The Israelite City SCYTHOPOLIS The Hellenistic Period The Roman Period The Byzantine Period Remains from the Roman-Byzantine Periods Beit She'an - Scythopolis in later periods

Ancient Beit She'an, located in the Jordan Valley some 30 km. south of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), was of strategic importance because here the road from Jerusalem northwards met the road from the northern coast eastwards to Transjordan. This strategic position in the fertile Beit She'an valley made it one of the major cities in the Land of Israel. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Beitshean.html (1 of 13)2/11/2004 13:34:01

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Between 1921 and 1933, major archeological excavations were conducted on the ten acres of Tel Beit She'an (in Arabic: Tel el-Husn - "Hill of the Fortress"). Remains from the Roman-Byzantine period were exposed on the top of the tel (mound) and in its southern part, those of earlier periods: the Bronze and Iron Ages. In the course of the excavations remains of 20 strata/settlements were exposed, which date from the Neolithic/Chalcolithic periods (5th-4th millennia BCE) to the Byzantine period (7th century CE). Excavations on the tel were renewed in 1983, and again between 19891996, uncovering more remains of the early cities. From the early 1980s until the present, large-scale excavations have been carried out in the city center of the Hellenistic and Roman-Byzantime periods. In the Hellenistic period, Beit She'an was renamed Scythopolis (city of the Scythians) and grew, extending southeast to Tel Itztaba. The city reached its maximum size and prosperity during the Roman- Byzantine period, when a new civic center was built in the valley southwest of the tel, surrounded by residential quarters; in the Byzantine period it was also fortified with a city wall. In the Early Arab period, Beit She'an-Scythopolis declined; it was destroyed by earthquake in 749. A small fortress was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, to control the crossroads and to guard against Muslim penetration of their kingdom, but the city was never rebuilt. Only a small Arab village existed there in later periods.

BEIT SHE'AN The Earliest Settlements Due to the limited area excavated, little is known about Beit She'an in its earliest periods. However, it is clear from a deposit several meters high, that there was continuous, intensive settlement. The earliest inhabitants, of the Chalcolithic period, lived in caves cut into the rock of the hill. Apsidal dwellings, built of flat clay bricks, appeared at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE.

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Evidence of a large Bronze Age (3rd millenium BCE) town was exposed. This town extended to the hill east of the tel and its residents lived in multi-roomed broadhouses. One of the buildings was a fine brick structure, roofed with reeds covered by plaster and included a large hall, its walls over one meter thick. This building was either a public storehouse or a granary; it was destroyed by fire, leaving burnt wooden beams and a large quantity of charred grain and pulses. High-quality pottery vessels decorated in black and red were found among local, inferior ware. This led the excavators to surmise that immigrants from northeastern Anatolia and the Caspian region had settled in Beit She'an. During the Middle Bronze Age (first half of the 2nd millennium BCE), Beit She'an declined into a town of minor significance. In the 16th century BCE, a temple was built of mud bricks covered with smoothed white plaster. It consisted of three parts: an entrance hall, a main hall (heikhal), and an inner room (dvir).

Chronological Table BEIT SHE'AN First settlements

Chalcolithic period 4th millennium BCE

Large town

Early Bronze Age

Small town

Middle Bronze Age 1st half of 2nd millennium BCE

Egyptian Administration Center

Late Bronze Age

15th - 12th centuries BCE

Canaanite city

Iron Age

12th - 11th centuries BCE

Israelite city

Iron Age

10th century - 732 BCE

Large, wealthy city

Hellenistic Period

3rd-2ndcenturies BCE

Planned city, with civic center

Roman Period

1st century BCE - 3rd CE

Expanded city with wall

Byzantine Period

4th - 7th centuries

City declined, destroyed earthquake (749), small settlement

Early Islamic Period 7th-10th centuries

3rd millennium BCE

SCYTHOPOLIS

LATER PERIODS Small fortress

Crusader Period

12th century

Village

Late Islamic Period 13th-19th centuries

Egyptian Administration Center During the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age (15th-12th centuries BCE), Beit She'an was an important city and served, as did Megiddo, as a center of Egyptian imperial administration in northern Canaan. The city is frequently mentioned http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Beitshean.html (3 of 13)2/11/2004 13:34:01

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in royal Egyptian documents and inscriptions from the reign of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom. The Egyptian administrative center inside the walled city included a governor's residence, government buildings, a royal granary, and a residential quarter for the families of the Egyptian officials. Egyptian finds, including royal steles, attest to the importance of the city as a center of the Egyptian administration. Royal buildings in Beit She'an included a succession of temples. These temple complexes combine Canaanite construction with Egyptian architectural elements, typical of the monumental buildings in Egypt proper. The first temple complex in Beit She'an was built during the reign of Thutmose III at the beginning of the 15th century BCE. It consisted of a large courtyard, in part surrounded by halls and rooms in which dozens of Egyptian pottery vessels, brought as ritual offerings, were found. The temple was modified in the 14th century BCE to include a large courtyard with an altar. The temple itself, which consisted of a hall with an altar and an interior room with a small cell behind it, stood at the eastern side of the courtyard. In this temple a stone stele was found, depicting, in Egyptian style, figures standing opposite a seated god, probably the Canaanite god Mekal. The inscription on the stele states that it was dedicated by the Egyptian scribe Pa-re-em-heb to the memory of his father, Mem-ep. Towards the end of the 14th century BCE, a new temple with only a few changes, was built in Beit She'an, and remained in use until the 12th century BCE. It consisted of a large hall with benches for offerings along the walls, its ceiling resting on two wooden columns, which stood on stone bases. Stairs in the rear of the hall led to a long, narrow dvir, 1.5 m. higher than the hall, with a bema against its back wall. During this period, a fortified governor's residence was built in Beit She'an. This brick building (23 x 22 m.) had thick walls. In its central hall, surrounded on all four sides by rooms, two wooden columns on stone bases supported the ceiling. Nearby, on both sides of a street, were large dwellings for Egyptian officials. Architectural elements, such as door lintels and doorposts, with dedicatory inscription and solemn oaths were found, as well as Egyptian-style luxury items, such as pottery objects and jewellery. Several basalt steles in royal Egyptian style, dating from the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 12th century BCE, were found in secondary use in Canaanite temples of the 11th century BCE. Two steles from the reign of Pharaoh Seti I include his names and titles. The "Large Stele", the most impressive find from the period of Egyptian rule of Canaan, describes the victory over the Canaanite cities, which had rebelled against Egypt and mentions them by name, including Beit She'an. The "Small Stele" describes the pharaoh's victory over tribes living in the hill region near the city; among them the Apiru (the name of the biblical Hebrews in Egyptian documents). Another stele, from the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II, lists the tof the king and his deeds in defense of the weak. On a hill north of the tel, the remains of a cemetery from the period of Egyptian rule were uncovered. Dozens of anthropomorphic clay sarcophagi, their lids with naturalistic reliefs of the deceaseds' faces, were found in the graves. The headdresses are similar to those of Philistine warriors depicted in Egyptian temple reliefs from the reign of Ramses III. Scholars assume that Philistine officials or soldiers, who served as mercenaries in the Egyptian garrison at Beit She'an, were buried in these sarcophagi. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Beitshean.html (4 of 13)2/11/2004 13:34:01

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Egyptian rule in Beit She'an came to an end in the mid-12th century BCE, when the city was destroyed by fire. The decline of Egyptian control over Canaan caused political unrest, and both the Sea Peoples (to whom the Philistines were related) and the Israelite tribes penetrated the region in this period.

The Canaanite City The Bible mentions Beit She'an as one of the Canaanite cities which was not conquered by the Israelites under Joshua. (Joshua 17:1 1-12; Judges 1:27) The city is again mentioned after the defeat of the Israelite army of King Saul by the Philistines on Mt. Gilboa (south of the city), when they impaled the bodies of King Saul and his sons on the walls of Beit She'an. (I Samuel 31:10-12) At the end of the 12th, and during the 11th century BCE, Beit She'an was an important Canaanite city with a mixed population: Canaanites and descendants of Egyptians and Philistines. During this period, a pair of temples was built on the ruins of the earlier Egyptian temple. The southern temple had a long central hall in which two rows of three columns supported the roof, and a number of rooms on both sides. The northern temple was rectangular, and its roof was supported by four columns. The Egyptian stelae, described above, were found here in secondary use. Finds from these Canaanite temples also include several ceramic cultic stands. These tall stands were made in imitation of multi-storied buildings, with plastic anthropormophic and zoomorphic decorations, including snakes and birds. This Canaanite city was burned to the ground at the beginning of the 10th century BCE, probably when conquered by King David.

The Israelite City Beit She'an is mentioned as an important city in the fifth administrative district of King Solomon. (I Kings 4:12) From this period, administrative buildings, one of them a large structure with numerous rooms that undoubtedly served as the regional administrative center, were uncovered. This city was destroyed to its foundations by Tiglath Pileser III of Assyria, when he conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 732 BCE.

SCYTHOPOLIS During the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, Beit She'an became known as Scythopolis ("City of the Scythians", probably mercenaries who, as veterans, settled there). According to tradition the city was founded by Dionysos, and his nursemaid Nysa was buried there; it was known also as Nysa-Scythopolis. Excavations were carried out mainly in the valley south and southwest of the tel. There, the main streets and public buildings of the urban center of Roman-Byzantine Scythopolis were uncovered and, south of it, the remains of the theater and the amphitheater.

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The Hellenistic Period Beit She'an is mentioned in written sources of the 3rd-2nd centuries BCE describing the conflict between the Ptolemids and the Seleucids (inheritors of the empire of Alexander the Great) over control of the Land of Israel, and with reference to the wars of the Hasmoneans to gain independence from Seleucid rule. At the beginning of the Hellenistic period, the town was located on top of the tel only. During Seleucid rule (2nd century BCE), it was accorded the status of polis (Greek, city). At this time, the town encompassed tel Iztaba (north of the tel) where remains of a residential area of the period were uncovered. The houses had brick walls on stone foundations, with rooms around a stone-paved courtyard; the walls were covered with frescos and stucco imitating ashlar construction. The remains of a large public building with massive, one meter-thick walls of trimmed stones plastered to look like paneling (stucco), were also exposed. Scythopolis was conquered and destroyed by the Hasmoneans at the end of the 2nd century BCE. A fierce conflagration left ceramic vessels and other utensils covered in a thick layer of ash. Among the finds were many imported pottery vessels, including dozens of wine amphorae from the Greek islands (especially from Rhodes) with seal impressions on the handles.

The Roman Period In 63 BCE, the Roman general and triumvir Pompey effectively established Roman rule in Judea, and Scythopolis played a central role in the administration of the area. Granted special privileges, Scytholopis began the count of years from its attaining the status of a Roman polis. It was the largest city of the Decapolis, a league of ten hellinized cities, nine of them east of the Jordan River. Public construction in the new urban center of Scythopolis in the valley southwest of the tel, was begun in the 1st century CE. But very little is known about the buildings of that period, since they were destroyed or incorporated into the massive construction work of the following period.

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During the reign of the emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century (the period of Pax Romana), the empire enjoyed peace, security and economic prosperity, as evidenced in extensive and elaborate construction projects in the Roman cities. Scythopolis was an outstanding example of this highlevel urban planning and construction. Impressive, freestanding gateways were built to mark the boundaries of the urban area. In the valley southwest of the tel, a new civic center was created. Along its colonnaded, main streets stood the temple, the basilica, the nymphaeum (fountain) and the bathhouses. To the south of them were the large entertainment complexes: the theater and the amphitheater. The ancient tel now served as the acropolis and the main temple of the city stood there. From Mt. Gilboa, 7 km. southwest of the city, water was carried to the city via aqueduct. The buildings, as well as the street pavements were of dark basalt stone, characteristic of the region. The public buildings were faced with hard limestone brought from Mt. Gilboa, as were architectural elements, such as columns and carved components. Several buildings were splendidly decorated with granite columns and sculpted elements in imported marble. The public buildings were funded by the Roman administration and by private donors. Inscriptions honoring benefactors of the city, including Roman emperors and governors, were found in the ruins. Many of the buildings of Scythopolis were damaged in the earthquake of 363. In 409, the city was designated the metropolis (provincial capital) of Palaestina Secunda, which included the Galilee and northern Transjordan. The city's population continued to grow with its administrative and economic importance, and its new status also led to massive repair-work of the damage caused by the earthquake, as well as to restoration and rebuilding.

The Byzantine Period During this period (4th-7th centuries), the urban center of Scythopolis underwent machanges. The pagan temple in the center of the city was destroyed, yet the nymphaeum and the eastern baths were restored, and a large new bathhouse was built in the south. The basilica was turned into a large agora (square). Some of the streets were improved with mosaic-paved stoas, others were narrowed, with new shops built along them. Many dedicatory inscriptions found in the restored buildings are evidence of the involvement of the provincial administration in these projects; private philanthropists seem to have preferred donating their money for the building of churches and synagogues.

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During the 4th and 5th centuries the urban area of Scythopolis grew and spread over the plateau around the civic center. Remains of elaborate villas with colorful mosaics, such as the one known as the House of Leontius, were found in the western part of the city. The population was primarily Christian, as attested to by the large number of churches; but remains of a Jewish and a Samaritan synagogue also attest to established communities of these minorities. During this period, Scythopolis was fortified with a city wall, which incorporated the gateways of the Roman city. The 2.5 m.-thick wall was about 4.5 km. long, with many square towers. It surrounded the entire 400 acres of the city, including the amphitheater and the residential neighborhoods. In the 6th century, with a population of some 40,000, Scythopolis reached its greatest size and residential areas and churches were also built outside the city wall. Population density, preference for more functional construction and the decline of the imperial and provincial administration led to poor maintenance of the luxurious Roman buildings and to a general deterioration of the city towards the end of the Byzantine period.

Remains from the Roman-Byzantine Periods Colonnaded Streets Several colonnaded streets, along which the public buildings of Roman Scythopolis stood, crossed the civic center at the foot of the tel. The width of the streets was about 24 m.; on both sides of the unroofed thoroughfare stood two rows of columns, which supported roofs covering elevated sidewalks lined with shops. The streets were restored in the Byzantine period and mosaic inscriptions with the names of those responsible for the renovation were found (these names were adopted by the excavators as street names, as in the following). Sylvanus Street crossed the city from north to south along the western side of the tel. South of it stood an elaborate, 56 m.-long colonnade, its facade with a row of 7 m.-high columns behind a reflecting pool. Valley Street branched off from Sylvanus Street. This colonnaded street, with 5 m.-high columns, was exposed for a length of 150 m.; it continued for several hundred meters to Nahal Harod, over which a 37 m.-long stone bridge was built, supported by three massive piers from which sprung two great arches. At the northern end of the street was a monumental gateway with a 7 m.-wide opening and a vaulted roof. It served those entering the city from the north, along Valley Street to the city's center. The gate was incorporated into the city wall in the Byzantine period. Palladius Street, another colonnaded street, extended from the theater northward for 150 m. to Sylvanus Street, at the foot of the tel. The western colonnade of the street was repaved in the 4th century, according to a mosaic inscription, during the governorship of

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Palladius son of Porfirius. At the center of this colonnade was the Sigma Plaza (a semicircular plaza in the form of the Greek letter sigma), which according to a mosaic inscription, was built in the beginning of the 6th century. It served as a center for entertainment, as well as for commerce. Sigma Plaza was paved with stone slabs and the 12 rooms around it with colorful mosaics patterns. The floor of one room had a round frame with a portrait of Tyche, the patron goddess of Scythopolis. The crown on her head is in the form of a city wall with towers, and in her hands she holds a cornucopia filled with fruit and a palm tree. The intersection of the colonnaded streets of the civic center of Roman Scythopolis, near the southwestern corner of the tel, was marked by a great, 15 m.-high monument. It consisted of a trapezoidal platform (ca. 14 x 12 m.) on which columns with Corinthian capitals supported arches and a decorated frieze.

The Acropolis At the northern end of Palladius Street, at the foot of the tel, stood a monumental propyleum (gate structure) with three entrances. From it a staircase, the via sacra, (sacral way) led to the top of the tel, which was the acropolis of Scythopolis. An altar, with dedications to Zeus Akraios (Zeus of the Heights - the acropolis) was found at the foot of the tel, indicating that a temple to Zeus, overlooking the city, had once stood atop it. During the Byzantine period, the temple was removed and a church built in its place.

The Basilica The central civil basilica of Scythopolis, 70 m. long and 30 m. wide, was located west of the intersection of the main streets. Rows of columns with Ionic capitals created roofed aisles on four sides of an open courtyard. The basilica served as the commercial center of the city and legal and public affairs were also conducted there. A large agora (square) replaced the Basilica during the Byzantine period. As it was located between existing Roman buildings, its shape was irregular; it was completely enclosed by colonnades. The agora played a central role in the commercial life of Byzantine Scythopolis.

The Nymphaeum This public fountain, located on Sylvanus Street next to the monument, was a very elaborate building with a semi-circular facade - an apse facing the street, with niches for statues. On podiums flanking the structure stood two pairs of large fluted columns. Water from the aqueduct was fed into the back of the nymphaeum, and piped through openings in its facade into a small pool.

The Temple A Roman temple stood at the intersection of Sylvanus and Palladius streets, probably http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Beitshean.html (9 of 13)2/11/2004 13:34:01

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dedicated to the cult of Dionysus, the traditional patron god and founder of the city. It apparently also served the cult of Nysa, the nursemaid of Dionysius, who was also regarded as a goddess. The temple was built on a 20m-high podium supported on a series of arches. Its was reached by a wide staircase from the plaza. In the facade was a pronaos (front hall) with four enormous limestone columns on bases, each weighing 25 tons. These columns supported a decorated gable. A pedestal found in the plaza in front of the temple bears an inscription in Greek with the name of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (l6l - l80) which begins: With good fortune. The residents of the city of Nysa Scythopolis... The temple was largely destroyed by the Christians in the 4th century, but its beautiful facade remained standing.

The Eastern Bathhouse Located on Sylvanus Street east of the Basilica, it included a square hall (20 x 20 m.) that served as the frigidarium (cold room) of the bathhouse. The room's wall and floor were covered with marble slabs. In one of its walls was a fountain and in the other walls were niches for statues. Fragments of statues, probably smashed in the Byzantine period, were found in a pit below the bathhouse; they are those of a life-sized young Dionysus, a nude Aphrodite, an emperor wearing armor and an Athena. The main part of the bathhouse contained rooms and halls, including a caldarium heated by a hypocaust. A large latrine, with a colonnaded courtyard, had rows of evenly spaced stone toilet seats along its walls, and drainage channels beneath them.

The Theater The monumental theater of Scythopolis stands at the southern end of Palladius Street and is the best preserved building from Roman times. Performances consisted mainly of light entertainment such as acrobatics, impersonations and sports competitions, though plays were also presented. The theater, 110 m. in diameter, was built on a hillside, its rear wall partly cut into bedrock. Its facade towards the tel, where the Temple of Zeus stood, was surrounded by plazas. The theater had 7,000 seats made of limestone, in three blocks. Only thelower tier of seats, consisting of 13 rows including the lowest one reserved for dignitaries, remained complete. There were nine radial staircases, but only the core of the middle block remained, as the limestone seats had been removed at a later time. A row of large pilasters around the outside of the structure indicates that there existed an upper block of seating, of which nothing remains today. Eight arched passageways led the spectators into the theater. The semicircular orchestra area was paved with marble; it was reached via arched passageways that ran under the blocks of seating. The raised stage, also paved in marble was built on a row of arches. The scenae frons, the architectural backdrop to the stage, was 21 m. high. The side facing the seats consisted of niches that held statues, and a row of alternating black and red granite columns supporting decorated friezes. Along a corridor, behind the scenae frons, were cubicles for the use of the performers and stagehands. Three openings in the northern wall of this corridor provided direct access from Palladius Street.

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The Amphitheater The amphitheater was located on the plateau south of the Roman civic center. A hippodrome had been built here, of which very little is known, since the Roman amphitheater was built on its western part. The oval amphitheater (102 x 67 m.) encloses an arena 82 m. long and 47 m. wide. The arena was surrounded by a 3.2 m.-high wall, with 10-12 rows of seats, for 5,0007,000 spectators. Only three rows of seats were preserved. At the center of the seatingblock on the north side was a platform for dignitaries, an orchestra and the game organizers. On the western and eastern sides of this wall were openings for direct access to the arena; several rooms along the wall around the arena may have been cages for wild animals. Performances at the amphitheater probably included contests between gladiators, hunting of wild animals, sport competitions and more. With Byzantine-Christian rule in the 4th century, performances in the amphitheater were forbidden. In the following centuries, dwellings, as well as industrial and commercial structures, were built on its remains and a basalt-paved street linked this suburb to the center of town. Two Greek inscriptions state that the paving was the generous gift of the Archon (title of the provincial governor) Flavius Orestes (535).

The Western Bathhouse Northwest of the theater, at the southern end of Palladius Street, a large bathhouse complex, 100 m. long and 90 m. wide, was constructed in the 4th century. A monumental propyleum (gateway), with columns and carved friezes connected the street to a mosaic-paved colonnade, which led to the bathhouse courtyard. The courtyard was surrounded, on three sides, by broad porticos paved with mosaic or colored marble tiles. The mosaics, according to an inscription, were replaced in 535 with marble pavement. The bathhouse itself consisted of eight halls with an open pool and fountains in front of it. At its center were large halls heated by hypocaust. Stone domes covered the halls, the floors were paved with marble slabs and the walls were decorated with paintings. The building also included two public latrines. The many inscriptions engraved in stone or incorporated in the mosaic pavements indicate renovations and changes made by the provincial governors. An outstanding addition in the 6th century was an apse built in the western portico of the courtyard; it served for public gatherings.

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Beit She'an

A Synagogue in the House of Leontius The House of Leontius, so named by the excavators (1964-72), was built in the Byzantine period in the western part of Scythopolis. In the excavations, only several rooms around a courtyard were exposed, including one on the southern side (7 x 7 m.), which had served as a synagogue. Its colorful mosaic floor had an outer belt decorated with flowers and birds, around medallions with animals, created by vine trellises emerging from an amphora. The central medallion enclosed a menorah (candelabrum) beneath the word shalom (peace). Four inscriptions were found in the room: one of the two in Aramaic mentions members of the holy community who contributed to the renovation of the building; one of the two Greek inscriptions refers to Jose the innkeeper, lending credence to the idea that the synagogue was part of an inn. Several rooms were located on the northwestern side of the building, one of them with a beautiful mosaic floor featuring scenes from the Odyssey: Odysseus bound to the mast of his ship; and struggling to resist the lure of the Sirens. A Greek inscription refers to Leontius and his brother Jonathan, who donated the mosaic floor and wished to be remembered for their deed.

The Monastery of the Lady Mary The Monastery, founded in 567, is located at tel Itztaba; it was excavated in the 1930s. This building, near the inner side of the city wall of Scythopolis, was named after a donor mentioned in one of the dedicatory inscriptions. The monastery included a church, and many rooms with mosaic floors. The mosaic floor of the central hall of the church has frames of different shapes and sizes in which animals, such as lions, camels, boars and ostriches are depicted. At its center is a zodiac with the Greek names of the twelve months.

The Samaritan Synagogue This synagogue was also located at tel Itztaba, outside the northern part of the Byzantine city wall of Scythopolis. The building was excavated in 1960. Its plan was basilical, with an apse oriented northwest, not towards Jerusalem. The mosaic floor had floral and geometrical motifs, but no human or animal images. The square carpet in front of the apse depicts an aedicule (shrine) supported by columns and covered with a parochet (curtain). On both sides of the aedicule are identical presentations of cultic symbols: menorah (candelabrum), shofar (ram's horn) and incense shovel. One of the inscriptions in the mosaic floor is in Greek, but written in Samaritan script, which led to the surmise that the building was a Samaritan synagogue.

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Beit She'an

Beit She'an - Scythopolis in later periods Scythopolis came under Muslim control in 635 and was renamed Beisan. The city was not damaged and its Christian population lived together with the newly arrived Muslims until the 8th century, but during this period the city declined and its Roman-Byzantine architectural glory was lost to neglect. New structures were erected in the streets themselves, narrowing them to mere alleyways, and makeshift shops were opened in the colonnades. By the 8th century, the city had reached a low point; marble was removed for making lime, Palladius Street was blocked and Sigma Square was turned into a cemetery. On l8 January 749, the town now known as Beisan, was completely destroyed by an earthquake, as documented in Jewish literary sources. Large quantities of pottery, metal and glass vessels, and jewellery, as well as gold and silver coins and a number of skeletons were found in the excavations. In the l2th century, the Crusaders built a small fortress south of the tel, using stones removed from the buildings of ancient Scythopolis. After their defeat at the end of the century, Beisan became an Arab village, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the monumental and elegant city it had once been. Preservation and restoration of the remains of the civic center of Roman-Byzantine Scythopolis was undertaken in conjunction with the archeological excavations. It is again possible to walk along the colonnaded streets of the civic center, to admire the public buildings and to visit the theater, which has been partially restored and in which performances are once again presented. The theater was excavated in the 1950s by S. Appelbaum. Excavations at Tel Beit She'an in 1983 were directed by Y. Yadin and S. Geva; those conducted from 1989 to 1996 were under the direction of A. Mazar on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The excavation at Tel Iztaba was directed by G. Mazor and R. Bar-Natan on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavation of the city center of the Roman-Byzantine period was directed by G. Mazor and R. Bar-Natan on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and by Y. Tsafrir and G. Foerster on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry. Photos courtesy of Jack Hazut.

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Beit Shemesh: Biblical City on the Border Between Judah and Philistia

Beit Shemesh: Biblical City on the Border Between Judah and Philistia

Tel (mound) Beit Shemesh covers about 7 acres of a low hill, near the modern town of Beit Shemesh, some 20 km. west of Jerusalem. It overlooks the Sorek Valley, which widens here into a fertile valley. The name Beit Shemesh (House of the Sun) is suggestive of the deity that was worshipped by the Canaanite inhabitants of the ancient city. Identification of the mound with biblical Beit Shemesh is based on its geographical description in the Bible, on the Onomasticon of Eusebius (4th century CE) and on the name of the Arab village Ein Shams, which preserves the ancient name. The Bible mentions Beit Shemesh in the description of the northern border of the Tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:10-11) and as a Levitical city in the territory of Judah. (Joshua 21:16) Beit Shemesh is also mentioned in connection with the return of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines, who had captured it in the battle of Eben-Ezer. The ark was placed on a cattle-drawn cart in the Philistine town of Ekron and sent via Nahal Sorek to Beit Shemesh: Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beit Shemesh and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beit Shemesh. -(I Samuel 6:12-13) At the beginning of the 8th century BCE, Beit Shemesh became http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Bet_Shemesh.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:03

Beit Shemesh: Biblical City on the Border Between Judah and Philistia

strategically important, as it controlled the western approaches of the Kingdom of Judah, and the road to its capital, Jerusalem. It was here that the battle between Amaziyah, King of Judah and Jehoash, King of Israel, took place. (II Kings 14:11-13) Shortly thereafter, Beit Shemesh passed into Philistine control, but was restored to the Kingdom of Judah under Hezekiah. The town was destroyed by Sennacherib in 701 BCE. Talmudic sources describe Beit Shemesh as a small village; in the Byzantine period a large, fortified monastery was built on the southeastern part of the tel. Excavations conducted at Beit Shemesh at the beginning of the 20th century and during the 1930s exposed large parts of the tel, down to bedrock. Remains of several successive cities from the Bronze and Iron ages were uncovered. But these early excavations, in part tunnels dug along the city walls, did not produce clear results. The aim of the new excavations, begun in 1990, is to shed more light on the history of ancient Beit Shemesh. The present excavations focus on the northern and southern sides of the tel, which remained largely untouched. In the very first season, the remains of several impressive Iron Age buildings were uncovered, indicating the importance of the city. In the coming years, the expedition plans to expose the remains of the Canaanite city that preceded the Israelite one.

The Period of the Judges (12th-11th centuries BCE) Remains of a large structure, probably a public building, were uncovered on the slope of the tel. Its walls, built of large fieldstones, indicate that it had a second story. There was also a large stone-paved courtyard surrounded by many rooms. To the east of this building were many simple buildings with ceilings supported by wooden pillars on stone bases. Large grindstones and clay ovens attest to the daily activities of their inhabitants. This city was destroyed (the event is unknown) and its houses were buried under a thick layer of ash and bricks. The pottery used by the inhabitants of Beit Shemesh during this period is in the Canaanite and Philistine tradition. But the bones of the animals they consumed attest to a diet typical of the Israelites who inhabited the hill country. Such finds indicate the cultural influences on the inhabitants of this border town; it is difficult, however, to ascertain their specific ethnic identity - Canaanite, Philistine or Israelite. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Bet_Shemesh.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:03

Beit Shemesh: Biblical City on the Border Between Judah and Philistia

The Period of the United Kingdom and of the Kingdom of Judah (10th-7th centuries BCE) In the 10th century BCE, probably during the reign of King Solomon, Beit Shemesh was rebuilt, and served as a regional administrative center of the Kingdom. The remains show evidence of considerable planning and financial investment in the buildings. The city was surrounded by massive fortifications and its water supply guaranteed by a subterranean reservoir. At the center of the densely built-up residential area was a large, wellconstructed building (250 sq. m.) with several elongated halls, probably a public warehouse. An elaborate system of fortifications, from the 10th century BCE, was discovered on the northeastern side of the tel. The main element is a tower with two very broad, perpendicular walls built of particularly large stones, each 1.5 m. long. A covered, hidden passage (postern) at the city wall, west of the tower, served as an escape route from the city. A casemate wall extending from the eastern side of the fortification is assumed to have surrounded the entire city. The massive tower was built of large stones, and projected outward. This wall, exposed during the previous excavations, was erroneously dated to the Bronze Age (2nd millennium BCE); it is now clear that it formed an integral part of the fortifications of the Israelite city. During the 9th-early 8th century BCE, a gatehouse was built in the city wall where the Israelite fortification complex had stood. This gatehouse provided direct access to the perennial water sources in the Sorek Valley and to the road running through that valley. The gatehouse had two pairs of open chambers facing each other with a passageway between them; beneath the passageway, a water channel was built. The lower portion of the gatehouse was constructed of large stones, the superstructure of bricks. Inside the city gate was a plaza, which probably served as the center of the city's public life. In the southern part of the site a large area used for commercial activity and for storage of goods was revealed. The buildings contained fragments of numerous pottery storage vessels destroyed in a conflagration at the beginning of the 8th century BCE. During the 8th century BCE, the inhabitants of Beit Shemesh engaged in oil production, both for their own use and for export. Remains of oil http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Bet_Shemesh.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:03

Beit Shemesh: Biblical City on the Border Between Judah and Philistia

presses containing large stone basins in which the olives were crushed, deep stone containers for the baskets with crushed olives, and heavy stone weights that were hung on wooden beams for pressing the oil from the olives, were found in the buildings.

The Water System Beneath the plaza inside the city gate, the excavators found a large subterranean reservoir - a unique find - not encountered so far in any of the water systems of the biblical period. The rock-cut reservoir is cruciform in shape (with four arms), coated with thick hydraulic plaster. The length of each of its arms is 9 m. and their width 2-4 m.; it is 6 m. high and has a capacity of 800 cu.m. From the top opening of the reservoir near the city gate, one may descend via a broad staircase, finely constructed of large stones, which makes two turns around a built pier. At the bottom is a narrow opening covered by three large and very carefully cut cigar-shaped stones. Through this opening one enters the northwestern arm of the reservoir, which was filled with rainwater collected from the plaza above (and flowed down the plastered staircase and a channel running alongside it). The channel under the city gate also emptied into the reservoir. Beit Shemesh was destroyed by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in his campaign against Judah in 701 BCE, and abandoned. But in the 7th century BCE some Judean families returned, refurbished the reservoir and lived for a while in its vicinity. Many pottery vessels, broken while drawing water, remained imbedded in the thick layer of silt accumulated at the bottom of the reservoir. On a bench hewn in the rock inside the entrance to the reservoir, two jars and a cooking pot were found, obviously left there by the last inhabitants of Beit Shemesh. This attempt by Judean families to settle in Beit Shemesh once more was resented by their Philistine neighbors and/or the ruling Assyrians. To ensure the abandonment of this border city, they deliberately blocked the entrance to the reservoir with 150 tons of earth and debris.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Beit Shemesh: Biblical City on the Border Between Judah and Philistia

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Belvoir: A Crusader Fortress Overlooking the Jordan Valley

Belvoir: A Crusader Fortress Overlooking the Jordan Valley

The security of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the twelfth century was dependent upon a network of fortifications, mainly along its eastern border which was vulnerable to Muslim attacks. The Crusader fortress of Belvoir is located on a hill of the Naphtali plateau, some 20 km. south of the Sea of Galilee and about 500 meters above the Jordan Valley. It overlooks the winding Jordan River below and faces the hills of Gilead in today’s Kingdom of Jordan. Belvoir – Fair View – was aptly named by the Crusaders. In Hebrew it is known as Kohav Hayarden – Star of the Jordan – which preserves the name of Kohav, the Jewish village which existed nearby during the Roman and Byzantine periods. The Muslims called it Kaukab al-Hawa – Star of the Winds. The first structure on the hill was modest; it was part of the feudal estate of a French nobleman named Velos who lived in Tiberias. He sold it to the Order of the Hospitalers in 1168; the Hospitalers understood the strategic importance of the site and erected a huge fortress with impenetrable defenses. From Belvoir, the garrison could closely watch the bridge over the Jordan which served as the eastern entryway from Gilead into their Kingdom, as well as the roads in the valley leading to the Galilee. Belvoir consisted of an outer square fortress which enclosed a smaller, inner square fortress. Its walls were built of large basalt ashlars held together by U-shaped iron joints. Well-protected cisterns for the storage of rain water guaranteed the water supply in times of siege.

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Belvoir: A Crusader Fortress Overlooking the Jordan Valley

The Outer Fortress The outer square fortress measures 110 x 110 m. A huge, external tower surrounded by a low wall (a barbican) was built on the eastern side, which controlled the dead space on the slope of the hill, both visually and with fire power. The main entrance to the fortress was via an outer gateway from the southeastern corner. From here, one proceeded up a paved ramp to the top of the external tower, turned back and continued to the inner gate of the fortress. This fortified gate was closed with a wooden door covered with metal and locked from the inside with a heavy wooden beam which fit into slots in the doorposts. A secondary entrance to the fortress was from the west, via a bridge suspended over the moat, which could be raised or destroyed when the fortress came under attack. A man-made moat, 20 m. wide and 14 m. deep, surrounded the fortress on three sides while the steep slope and the external tower protected its eastern side. The moat was dry and was meant to prevent siege engines, such as battering rams and assault towers, from coming close to the fortifications. Huge towers rose at the four corners of the fortress, with additional towers between them at mid-point. The broad bases of the towers slope towards the bottom of the moat, to prevent tunneling under them. In the upper stories of the towers were loopholes protected by covered recesses. The placement of the towers is such that the entire circumference of the fortress walls could be covered by cross fire. Almost every tower incorporated sally ports into the moat, with narrow staircases; the steps are unusually high, undoubtedly to make enemy penetration from the outside more difficult. In the courtyard between the walls of the outer fortress and the inner fortress were large halls covered with vaults. These served as stables, storehouses and living space and gave access to defensive positions on the roofs.

The Inner Fortress Inside the outer fortress and separated from it by the courtyard was the inner fortress (keep, donjon). It was a square, 50 x 50 m. structure, two stories high and surrounded by a wall with towers at the corners. This inner fortress could withstand siege even after the main, outer fortress had fallen into enemy hands. The main entrance was from the west. In its center was an open courtyard surrounded by vaulted spaces which served as refectory, kitchen, meeting hall, stores, living quarters etc. The upper story served as http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Belvoir.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:34:04

Belvoir: A Crusader Fortress Overlooking the Jordan Valley

the command headquarters of the fortress and included the apartments of the the knights, as well as a small chapel built of limestone and roofed with cross vaults. The fortress of Belvoir served its purpose as a major obstacle to the Muslims’ goal of invading the Crusader Kingdom from the east. It was attacked by Muslim forces in 1180 but its mighty fortifications withstood the attack. After the victory of the Muslim army under Salah al-Din (Saladin) over the Crusaders at the battle of the Horns of Hittin, Belvoir was besieged. The siege lasted a year and a half, until the defenders surrendered on 5 January 1189. The fortifications of Belvoir were dismantled in 1217-18 by the Muslim rulers who feared the reconquest of the fortress by the Crusaders. In 1240 Belvoir was ceded to the Crusaders, by agreement; lack of funds did not permit them to restore the fortifications and it returned to Muslim control a few years later. The fortress of Belvoir remained in ruins until comprehensive excavations were conducted in 1966. The fortifications, well preserved under masses of rubble, were revealed and, upon completion of the restoration work, the site was opened to visitors. It is the most complete and impressive Crusader fortress in Israel. The excavations were carried out under the direction of M. Ben-Dov on behalf of the National Parks Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Bet She'arim: The Jewish Necropolis of the Roman Period

Bet She'arim: The Jewish Necropolis of the Roman Period

Beit She'arim was founded at the end of the 1st century BCE, during the reign of King Herod, and reached the height of its prosperity in the Roman period. The town suffered greatly during the repression of the Jewish rebellion in 351 against Gallus Ceasar (the ruler of the Orient under the Emperor Constantius II) and then declined; it was abandoned during the Early Arab period (7th century). The town in southern Galilee was first mentioned by Josephus Flavius (Life 118-119) as Besara, the administrative center of the estates of Queen Berenice in the Jezreel Valley in the 2nd century. The locality became known as Beit She'arim, and a rabbinical academy was established there. Later in the same century the town gained fame when the Sanhedrin (Jewish legislature and supreme council after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE) was moved to Beit She'arim and Rabbi Judah Hanasi took up residence there. The revered Rabbi is especially known as the redactor of the Mishnah (collection of oral laws) and though he died in Zippori, he was buried in Beit She'arim. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, many Jews, both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora, were buried in Beit She'arim, and its cemetery became a necropolis. During ten seasons of excavation conducted in the 1930s and 1950s in the urban area of Beit She'arim and in its cemetery, many finds confirmed the identity of the site and the town's centrality in Jewish history, as recorded in written sources.

The Town http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Bet_Shearim.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:06

Bet She'arim: The Jewish Necropolis of the Roman Period

Beit She'arim was built on the top and on the southern slopes of a hill; in the Roman period it covered an area of about 25 acres. Remains of a number of large and very well-built public buildings were uncovered. Worthy of mention are the basilica with a 40 x 14 m. hall, divided by two rows of columns, which served as a meeting place for the discussion of secular matters; and the ancient synagogue measuring 35 x 15 m. next to it. The prayer hall of the synagogue, with two rows of columns along its sides and an elevated podium at the back, was entered from the south (the direction of Jerusalem). The interior walls were plastered and painted; some dedications to public office holders were found on the plaster.

The Necropolis The large cemetery of Beit She'arim contained many tombs and catacombs, some of them family tombs, others public burial places. Hewn into the slopes of the hills southwest of the town, some tombs are small and simple, but many became, in time, complex networks of catacombs. It would appear that the cutting of burial caves was an important part of the town's economy. Over the centuries, the caves were broken into, damaged and their contents robbed. The public caves are particularly large and elaborate, with entrances via large courtyards. Their decorative stone façades are in Roman architectural style. The entrances have three openings with heavy pivoting stone doors, carved in imitation of wooden doors with panels and nails. From the entrance, one descends several steps to the burial cave, which consists of a central hallway and a network of halls, at times two stories high. One of the catacombs consists of 16 burial halls with 400 assorted burial places, including troughs, pit graves, arcosolia and loculi. Sarcophagi made of local limestone or marble and a few of clay or lead, were found in the caves. There was also evidence of burial in wooden coffins, of which only the metal parts survived. The walls of the halls were decorated with carvings, paintings and engravings, providing examples of Jewish folk art of the period, and also Hellenistic influences. Obvious Jewish symbols are the seven-branched menorah (candelabrum), the Torah Ark (sometimes in a niche), the lulav (palm frond), etrog (citron), shofar (ram's horn) and incense shovel. There are also geometric motifs, figures of humans and animals, ships and architectural items, such as an arched gateway or a column with a capital. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Bet_Shearim.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:06

Bet She'arim: The Jewish Necropolis of the Roman Period

Many inscriptions engraved or painted on the walls and on stone plaques mention famous rabbis, community leaders, merchants and officials of the town and the country. Of particular interest are inscriptions naming distant Jewish communities in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Babylonia and even in southern Arabia, from where the remains were brought for burial. Most of the inscriptions are in Hebrew and Greek, with a few in Aramaic. The text is usually short: the name of the deceased and shalom (peace) or haval (alas!). The longer inscriptions provide information about the deceased, such as genealogy, occupation and place of origin abroad. Typical Hebrew inscriptions: This is the resting place of Yudan, son of Levi, forever in peace. May his resting place be [set?] in peace. Of Yudan, son of Levi This place belongs to priests. Alas! A typical Aramaic inscription: He who is buried here is Shim'on the son of Yohanan, and an oath, whoever shall open upon him shall die of an evil end Typical Greek inscriptions: We [are the sons] of Leontios from Palmyra, the banker The tomb of Aidesios, head of the council of elders, from Antiochia This is the grave of Leontios, the goldsmith, father of Rabbi Paregorios and Julianos, the palatinos Benjamin, the son of Julius, the textile merchant, son of the most excellent Makrobios Two elaborate burial complexes found on the northern slope of the town are particularly noteworthy. Semi-circular structures in the form of small theaters with benches, built above the caves, probably served as places for

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Bet She'arim: The Jewish Necropolis of the Roman Period

prayer and sermons when families and friends met on memorial days. Cave complex No.14 probably belonged to the family of Rabbi Judah Hanasi. Hebrew inscriptions mentioning Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Gamliel and Rabbi Hanania, the sons and student of Rabbi Judah Hanasi, were found on the walls: Simon my son shall be hakham (president of the Sanhedrin), Gamaliel my son patriarch, Hanania bar Hama shall preside over the great court The most important burial complex (No. 20) has a central corridor, about 50 m. long, from which numerous halls branch off. Some 130 limestone sarcophagi decorated in a local version of Roman mortuary style were found here, as well as marble sarcophagi decorated with mythological scenes, which had been broken and used for the manufacture of lime in later periods. Most of the decorations on these sarcophagi are foreign bulls' heads, eagles, two lions facing each other - but there are also Jewish symbols, such as the menorah. Some 20 Hebrew inscriptions were found on the walls of the cave and on sarcophagi, in which rabbis and famous persons and members of their families are mentioned: This is the coffin of Rabbi Hillel [Halil], the son of Rabbi Levi, who made this cave This is the coffin of Kyra Mega, the wife of Rabbi Joshua, son of Levi, Shalom

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Bethsaida

Bethsaida

Bethsaida is known as the birthplace of three of the Apostles – Peter, Andrew and Philip. Jesus himself visited Bethsaida and performed several miracles there. (Mark 8:22-26; Luke 9:10) Et-Tel, the mound identified as ancient Bethsaida, is located on a basaltic spur north of the Sea of Galilee, near the inflow of the Jordan River into the Sea of Galilee. The tel covers some 20 acres and rises 30 meters above a fertile valley. Geological and geomorphological studies show that in the past this valley was part of the Sea of Galilee. A series of earthquakes caused silt to accumulate, thus creating the valley and causing the north shore of the Sea of Galilee to recede. The result of this process, which continued until the Hellenistic period, was that Bethsaida, which had originally been built on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, came to be situated some 1.5 km. north of the shore. The name Bethsaida means "house of the hunt" in Hebrew. Identification of Et-Tel with the site mentioned in the New Testament was proposed as early as 1838 by Robinson, but was not accepted by most contemporary researchers; yet excavations conducted since 1987 have confirmed the identification.

Biblical Period The excavations revealed that the settlement at Bethsaida was founded in the 10th century BCE, in the biblical period. By that time the areas north and east of the Sea of Galilee were part of the Aramaean kingdom of Geshur. Its royal family, which ruled for several generations, was connected by marriage to tDavidic dynasty. King David married Ma’acha, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Bethsaida.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:08

Bethsaida

daughter of the King of Geshur; she was the mother of Absalom, who later found refuge in the Land of Geshur. (II Samuel 3:3; 14:32) Archeological excavations conducted at the site revealed impressive structures and fortifications, and the excavator therefore surmises that during this period Bethsaida was the capital city of the Kingdom of Geshur and the seat of its monarchs. The city was divided into two parts: a lower city, extending over most of the mound; and an upper city – the acropolis – on the higher, northeastern part of the mound. During the 9th century BCE, the acropolis was surrounded by a massive, fortified wall with a gate, constructed of large basalt stones. The 6-m.-wide wall, together with buttresses projecting from both sides, reached a width of 8 m. The city gate complex discovered on the eastern side of the tel consisted of an outer and an inner gateway. The outer gateway included a passageway between two massive towers; thus far, only the western tower, measuring 10 x 8 m., has been excavated. In the outer gateway, a 30-m.-long walkway paved with flat basalt stones led to the "four-room" inner gatehouse, typical of this period and measuring 35 x 17.5 m. It is preserved to an impressive height of 3 m. This is the largest city gate of the biblical period excavated in Israel. It is constructed of large basalt stones, some slightly trimmed, laid in courses. Above the stone structure stood a brick superstructure, both entirely coated with light plaster. Two huge projecting towers, 10 x 6 m. each, protected the entrance to the gate. The threshold of the gate consisted of large basalt stones with depressions that served as door-hinge sockets. Vivid evidence of the battle that took place here at the time of the city’s conquest and the conflagration which destroyed the gatehouse, is found in the fired bricks, the pile of carbonized wood and the arrowheads. A unique feature of the Bethsaida gate is the variety of cultic installations in front of the inner gate. An entire "gate altar" (bama) measuring 2.1 x 1.6 m. and constructed of basalt stones covered with light plaster was found there. Two steps led to the top of the bama which had a recessed, 35 cm. deep stone basin, measuring 60 x 50 cm. A basalt stele that once stood at the back of the bama was found, broken, on it. The stele, 1.15 m. high, 59 cm. wide and 31 cm. thick, was carefully shaped with a rounded top. On its front was carved the stylized figure of a horned bull, armed with a dagger. In the Mesopotamian pantheon, the bull represents the moon god. It was adopted by the Arameans as the symbol of their main deity, Haddad, identified as the figure represented on this stele.

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Bethsaida

Inside the gatehouse was a broad, paved plaza. On its northern side stood the palace of the kings which measured 28 x 15 m. with 1.4 m. thick basalt walls. The palace of Bethsaida is a typical example of the palaces of the Aramean kingdoms during the biblical period; it included a central hall which served as the throne room, surrounded by eight rooms. The Aramean city of Bethsaida was conquered and destroyed by the Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser III during his campaign in the region in 734 BCE. (II Kings 15:29-30; 16:7-9) From the time of that destruction, and until the Hellenistic period, the site was only sparsely inhabited.

The Hellenistic – Roman Periods The importance of Bethsaida during the Hellenistic-Roman period is apparent from references to it in ancient sources. Josephus Flavius states that King Herod Philip, whose kingdom included the northern part of the country, changed the name of the city at the beginning of the 1st century CE to Julias, after Julia Livia, wife of the Roman Emperor Augustus, and granted it municipal rights. (Antiquities 104, 18, 28) Also according to Josephus, Philip died in the city and was buried there with great pomp. (Antiquities 104, 18, 108) Several courtyard-houses dating from this period were uncovered in the excavations. Constructed of basalt and probably two storeys high, they included a paved, open courtyard surrounded by several rooms. Numerous fishing tools – lead weights for nets, iron anchors, needles and fishing hooks – were found in the houses, attesting to an economy based on fishing. One of the houses had a cellar in which ceramic wine amphorae and several vine pruning hooks were found. At the beginning of the first century CE, a building with particularly thick walls, measuring 20 x 6 m. was constructed above the remains of the city gate of the biblical period. Only very fragmentary remains of the foundations were found. Limestone ashlars brought from a considerable distance and fragments of decorated architectural elements are suggestive of the elegance of this building. Ritual vessels, including two decorated bronze incense shovels, indicate that it functioned as a temple. Perhaps these are the remains of the temple that King Philip built in honor of Julia Livia.

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Bethsaida

Excavations at the site are still underway. It is assumed that further finds from the periods of settlement await the archeologists’ spades. In the meantime, the site has been opened to visitors. The excavations at Bethsaida are directed by R. Arav on behalf of the Bethsaida Excavations Consortium headed by the University of Nebraska.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Byzantine Churches in the Negev

Byzantine Churches in the Negev

In the first century BCE, the Nabateans (nomadic traders from Northern Arabia) established a kingdom in today’s Kingdom of Jordan with Petra as its capital. They accumulated great wealth from their trade in costly perfumes and spices from East Africa and Arabia, which they transported by camel caravans to the southern Mediterranean port of Gaza. To secure their trade routes, the Nabateans built way stations at the intersections of the main routes – at Kurnub (Mampsis), Shivta and Avdat. In the inhospitable Negev desert, the Nabateans developed an agriculture based on terraces built into the hillsides and on a sophisticated system for collecting every drop of available water: to capture flood waters, they constructed dams in the valleys; to collect rain water, they cut cisterns into the rock. Their way stations grew into cities. The Nabatean kingdom was conquered by the Romans in the year 106 and annexed to the Roman Empire. Kurnub is located some 40 km. east of Be’er Sheva, above Nahal Mamshit. The Romans fortified it as one of the limes, the network of forts demarcating and protecting the eastern border of the Roman Empire. During the Roman and Byzantine periods, Kurnub was a flourishing city. In the second half of the 4th century, two churches were built here. The city was abandoned at the time of the Arab conquest (mid-7th century). The Eastern Church was built on the highest point of the city. It is part of a 55 x 25 m. complex consisting of service rooms and a small bathhouse. In front of the church was an atrium (courtyard) surrounded by porticoes

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Byzantine Churches in the Negev

(roofed aisles); under the courtyard was a cistern covered over with arches. The church measured 25.5 x 15 m., had two rows of columns, a bema (raised platform) and an apse. The hall of the church was paved with mosaics in geometrical patterns and large crosses; the aisles were paved with stone slabs. A small room with a baptismal font in its floor was found south of the church. Parts of the foundations of a four-roomed tower were uncovered near the entrance to the church, apparently a bell tower, since a large stone sundial was found there. The smaller but more elaborate Western Church, located in the western part of the city, was of similar design. The mosaic floor of its hall was divided into octagonal medallions in which birds and baskets of fruit are depicted, with two peacocks in front of the raised platform. Two of the dedicatory inscriptions mention a man by the name of Nilus as the builder of the church, as well as the names of two of the church’s beadles. Shivta is located some 40 km. southwest of Be’er Sheva. Some of the buildings now standing date from the Roman period, but most were built in Byzantine times, when the inhabitants engaged in intensive agriculture. In the 4th century two churches were built here (the northern and the southern); later, in the 5th-6th century, when the city expanded, the central church was added. Shivta appears to have been abandoned at some point during the Islamic period (9th-10th century). The Southern Church was built among the Roman-period buildings, next to the water cisterns. Because of lack of space it had only one apse, with a room on either side of it. In the 6th century, these rooms were turned into two small side apses with wall paintings, surviving fragments of which depict Moses and Elijah and the Transfiguration of Christ. During a later phase, several rooms were added north of the basilica, including chapels and a large baptistery with a stone cruciform baptismal font and a smaller, rock-cut font for infant baptism. An inscription on a lintel attests to the building of these annexes at the beginning of the 5th century, and one incorporated into the floor the year 640. The Northern Church was part of a large monastery, which consisted of many courtyards and some 40 rooms, in the very north of the city. The only entrance to the church was through a particularly large atrium (21 x 15 m.), which had an opening into the rock-cut cistern beneath it. Between the atrium and the church is a narthex (passageway) leading to the triple entrance of the basilica, which measures 12 x 10 m., divided by two rows of six columns into a main hall and two aisles. As in the northern church, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/byznegev.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:10

Byzantine Churches in the Negev

the original central apse with rooms on either side of it was replaced with a triple apse in the 6th century. Niches in the rear walls of the side apses probably contained reliquaries. Marble slabs covered the floor and also the lower part of the walls. A chapel was constructed south of the basilica, with an apse in its eastern side. The floor is paved with mosaics in geometrical patterns and contains an inscription attesting to its construction in the time of Bishop Thomas in the fifth year of the indiction (517). The baptistery, with a large stone-cut baptismal font, lies south of the chapel. It was also used as a cemetery, and contains several gravestones with the names of monks and priests, dated between 612 and 679. The Central Church was built in the center of the new (5th-6th century) residential quarter in the northern part of Shivta. It has a small, narrow atrium through which one enters a basilica measuring 18 x 14 m. Along its length run two rows of four columns and on its eastern side are three apses. Avdat is located on a mountain ridge in the center of the Negev highlands. In the middle of the 3rd century it was resettled and became an important Roman military outpost, with a residential quarter on the spur southeast of the acropolis. In the sixth century, under Byzantine rule, Avdat had an estimated population of 3,000. New agricultural crops were grown in the valleys around the city and a number of wine presses, which have been excavated, indicate intensive vine cultivation. A citadel and a monastery with two churches were built on the acropolis. The city was destroyed, probably by earthquake, and abandoned in the 7th century. The Northern Church, in basilical style, was reached through an atrium with a cistern and had a single apse. Behind it, to the west, was a baptismal font in cruciform shape and a smaller font for baptizing infants. The more important Southern Church had three apses on the eastern side. In the floor are reliquaries for the remains of local saints. In the floor of the prayer hall of the church are the tombs of clerical dignitaries with inscriptions on stone slabs covering the tombs, dating from 542 to 618. One of the inscriptions gives the name of the church, The Martyrion of St. Theodorus, also known from other inscriptions, who served as abbot of the monastery of Avdat and was buried in this church. The excavations at Kurnub were conducted by A. Negev of the Hebrew http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/byznegev.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:10

Byzantine Churches in the Negev

University of Jerusalem and the National Parks Authority; the excavations at Shivta date from the 1930s . Cleaning and restoration was done on behalf of the National Parks Authority under A. Aviyonah; the excavations at Avdat were conducted by A. Negev on behalf of the National Parks Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Caesarea

Caesarea

Caesarea is located on the Mediterranean coast, about midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Archeological excavations during the 1950s and 1960s uncovered remains from many periods, in particular, a complex of fortifications of the Crusader city and the Roman theater. During the past 20 years, major excavations conducted by numerous expeditions from Israel and abroad have exposed impressive reminders of the forgotten grandeur of both the Roman and the Crusader cities.

The Roman City Founded by King Herod in the first century BCE on the site of a Phoenician and Greek trade post known as Straton’s Tower, Caesarea was named for Herod’s Roman patron, Augustus Caesar. This city was described in detail by the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. (Antiquities XV. 331 ff; War I, 408 ff) It was a walled city, with the largest harbor on the eastern Mediterranean coast, named Sebastos, the Greek name of the emperor Augustus. The temple of the city, dedicated to Augustus Caesar, was built on a high podium facing the harbor. A broad flight of steps led from the pier to the temple. Public buildings and elaborate entertainment facilities in the imperial tradition were erected. King Herod’s palace was in the southern part of the city. In the year 6 CE, Caesarea became the seat of the Roman procurators of Provincia Judaea and headquarters of the 10th Roman Legion. In the 2nd http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Caesarea.html (1 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:13

Caesarea

and 3rd centuries, the city expanded and became one of most important in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, classified as the "Metropolis of the Province of Syria Palaestina," Caesarea played an important role in early Christian history. Here the baptism of the Roman officer Cornelius took place; (Acts 10:1-5, 25-28) from here Paul set sail for his journeys in the eastern Mediterranean; and here he was taken prisoner and sent to Rome for trial. (Acts 23:23-24) The palace was built on a rock promontory jutting out into the sea, in the southern part of the Roman city. The excavations revealed a large architectural complex, measuring 110 x 60 m., with a decorative pool, surrounded by porticoes. This elegant structure in its unique location was identified as Herod’s palace. (Antiquitites, XV, 332) The palace was in use throughout the Roman period, as attested to by two columns with Greek and Latin dedicatory inscriptions naming governors of the province of Judea. The theater is located in the very south of the city. It was commissioned by King Herod and is the earliest of the Roman entertainment facilities built in his kingdom. The theater faces the sea and has thousands of seats resting on a semi-circular structure of vaults. The semi-circular floor of the orchestra, first paved in painted plaster, was later paved with marble. In the excavated theater a stone was found, bearing parts of an inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judea, and the Tiberium (the edifice in honor of the Emperor Tiberius) which he built. The amphitheater, on the city’s southern shore, was also mentioned by Josephus Flavius. It was north-south oriented and measured 64 x 31 m. Its eastern and rounded southern side are well preserved; the western side was largely destroyed by the sea. A 1.05 m-high wall surrounded an arena, covered with crushed, beaten chalk. When first built in the Herodian period, it seated about 8,000 spectators; in the first century CE seating areas were added, increasing its capacity to 15,000. The dimensions, shape and installations indicate that this amphitheater was used for racing horses and chariots and was, in fact, a hippodrome. An inscription found here reads Morismus [the] charioteer. During the second century, the amphitheater was rebuilt and adapted for use as a more standard type of amphitheater. The Aqueduct, which provided an abundant supply of water, was built in http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Caesarea.html (2 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:13

Caesarea

the Herodian period; it was later repaired and enlarged to a double channel when the city grew. The upper aqueduct begins at the springs located some nine kilometers northeast of Caesarea, at the foot of Mt. Carmel. It was constructed with considerable engineering know-how, ensuring the flow of water, by gravity, from the springs to the city. In some portions, the aqueduct was supported by rows of arches, then it crossed the kurkar ridge along the coast via a tunnel. Entering the city from the north, the water flowed through a network of pipes to collecting pools and fountains throughout the city. Many inscriptions in the aqueduct ascribe responsibility for its maintenance to the Second and Tenth Legions.

Byzantine Caesarea During this period, Caesarea became an important Christian center. The Church Father Origen founded a Christian academy in the city, which included a library of 30,000 manuscripts. At the beginning of the 4th century, the theologian Eusebius, who served as Bishop of Caesarea, composed here his monumental Historia Ecclesiastica on the beginnings of Christianity and the Onomasticon, a comprehensive geographical-historical study of the Holy Land. Byzantine Caesarea was surrounded by a 2.5 km. long wall, which protected the residential quarters built outside the Roman city. It had a 3 m.wide city gate in its southern section. Side by side with the Christian population and its numerous churches, there were Jewish and Samaritan communities that built elaborate synagogues. During this period, the Roman inner harbor was blocked and buildings were constructed on what had become dry land. A row of vaults serving as shops was built against the podium wall facing the port. The main church was the Martyrion of the Holy Procopius, built in the 6th century upon the remains of the Roman temple on the podium. The octagonal, 39 m.-wide church stood within a square precinct measuring 50 x 50 m., surrounded by rooms along its walls. The floor was paved with marble slabs in a variety of patterns. Of the rows of columns in the building, several Corinthian capitals decorated with crosses were found. A very large and elaborate building, which included numerous courtyards and rooms spread over the area of an entire insula (block of buildings) and surrounded by the main streets of the city, was dubbed the government building. Its entrance was from the cardo (north-south main street), its western side supported by a row of vaults, which had once served as port http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Caesarea.html (3 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:13

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warehouses. One such vault facing the decumanus (east-west main street) was plastered and decorated with red and black wall paintings, including depictions of Jesus and the twelve apostles. A large hall with an apse, located in the center of the government building, served as the hall of justice. Fragments of a Greek inscription found here refer to an imperial decree dealing with fees that clerks of the court may collect for services rendered. In the northeastern part of the building was a group of rooms with mosaic floors; one with a quote from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. (13:3) Rectangular niches in the walls of a long hall north of the hall of justice probably served as an archive. Remains of a 5th century synagogue were found on the seashore north of the harbor. The rectangular building faces south towards Jerusalem. Architectural details were found in its ruins, including capitals with carved menorot (candelabra), a column inscribed shalom and parts of a Hebrew inscription listing the twenty-four priestly courses in the Temple in Jerusalem. Remains of several other large buildings were exposed, among them an elaborate 4th century renovated bathhouse. It consisted of groups of courtyards and rooms with benches along the walls, most of them paved with mosaics, and in the caldarium (hot-room) area were several rooms with a heating system (hypocaust). Some particularly elegant rooms were paved in marble and had mosaic decorations on the walls; one depicts a female with the words "pretty woman" next to it. Inside the amphitheater, which was no longer in use, a two-level palace was built with a staircase connecting the two levels. The upper level included two courtyards and rooms paved in colored tiles or mosaics and served as the residence. The lower level had a courtyard with an apse on one side, paved in colored tiles. Along this courtyard stood two rows of columns with a marble chancel screen between them and in the northern wall was a fountain with a rectangular basin below it. This lower level served as an open garden.

Arab Caesarea In 639, Caesarea was conquered by the Arabs and its importance, as well as its population, dwindled. Urban areas were abandoned and replaced by agricultural terraces. This Arab town was surrounded in the 10th century by a 3 m.-thick wall, remains of which were found during the excavations. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Caesarea.html (4 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:13

Caesarea

Caesarea of the Crusaders In 1101, the Frankish army under King Baldwin I conquered Caesarea. Caesarea became the seat of an archbishop and not only Franks but also eastern Christians and Muslims settled there. The Genoese found a greencolored glass vessel in the city and declared it to be the Holy Grail, the goblet used by Jesus at the Last Supper. It was taken to Genoa and placed in the Church of San Lorenzo. Caesarea was captured by Saladin in 1187 after only a short siege. It was retaken in 1191 by Richard the Lion Heart, King of England, who exiled the Muslim inhabitants. Because of the growing Muslim threat, Louis IX, King of France (who was later canonized), restored and fortified Caesarea in 1251-52. A magnificent 4 m.-thick wall, some 1.6 km. long, surrounded the city, which covered an area of about 40 acres. It was also protected by a glacis, towers and a 10 m.deep and 15 m.-wide moat. Access to the city was via gates, the main one located in the eastern wall. Approach to the main gate, of the indirect access type, was via a bridge built on arches which were supported by piers at the bottom of the moat. The square gatehouse had a cross-vaulted ceiling supported by consoles decorated with floral motifs. The doors were closed on the inside with wooden bars and were protected on the outside by an iron grill, which was lowered through a slot from the ceiling. These most impressive fortifications were described in great detail by contemporary Crusader chroniclers. The cathedral of the Crusader city was built on the podium raised by King Herod to serve as his city’s acropolis. The 12th century cathedral, the eastern part of which was added in the middle of the 13th century, was a modest structure measuring 55 x 2 m. The hall was divided into a central nave and two aisles that ended in the east in three apses; the floor was paved in mosaics. The vaulting was supported by rectangular piers and pilasters. The end of Crusader Caesarea came in 1265, when the Mamluk Sultan Baybars attacked the city. After a short siege, the Crusader defenders gave up hope and evacuated the city. The conquering Mamluks, fearing a return

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of the Crusaders, razed the city’s fortifications to the ground. Caesarea is a most impressive archeological site, open to the public. One can visit the Roman-period theater, King Herod’s palace, the amphitheater and much more. One can also cross the moat, enter the restored Crusader city and look towards the harbor from the top of the podium. Renewed excavations in the 1990s have been conducted by two expeditions: The Israel Antiquities Authority, directed by S. Porat; The Combined Caesarea Expedition of the Center of Maritime Studies, Haifa University led by A. Raban, the University of Maryland, led by K. Holum, and the Institute of Archeology, Haifa University, led by J. Patrich.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Capernaum

Capernaum by Hillel Geva

The remains of Capernaum of the New Testament are located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The town was a center of Jesus' activities in the Jewish Galilee (Matthew 4:13, 8:5) and became known as "His own city" (Matthew 9:1), where he performed several miracles (Luke 4:31-35; Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 5:21-42), and visited the synagogue (Mark 1:21-28). Capernaum is also mentioned by Josephus Flavius (Life 72), who was brought there after being wounded in battle. Christian sources of the Byzantine period describe Capernaum as a village inhabited by Jews and Christians. In the Early Muslim period (7th-8th centuries), Capernaum continued to prosper, then declined and was abandoned in the 11th century. Its ruins were known in Arabic as Tel Hum, preserving the ancient Hebrew name Kfar Nahum (the village of Nahum). The remains of the buildings and of the synagogue were identified in 1838 by Eduard Robinson as Capernaum of the New Testament period and have since then attracted many researchers, primarily Christians. The site was acquired by the Franciscan Fathers at the end of the 19th century, and they conducted excavations, mainly of the synagogue building and of the octagonal structure south of it. The synagogue was partially restored in the early 20th century. Extensive excavations in the area of the village and of the foundations of the synagogue and the octagonal structure were renewed by the Franciscan Fathers between 1968 and 1972, and in 19781982 excavations were conducted in the area of the Greek Orthodox church, east of the synagogue.

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Capernaum

Capernaum was first established during the Hellenistic period (2nd century BCE). During the period of Jesus' activity in the Galilee (beginning of the 1st century CE), it was a large Jewish village. In the Late Roman and Byzantine periods (3rd-7th centuries) it became a prosperous town spread over some 13 acres, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and the moderate slope to the north. The inhabitants were fishermen, farmers and merchants. A Roman milestone bearing an inscription from the period of the Emperor Hadrian (early 2nd century CE) attests to the important road across the village, which linked the Galilee with Damascus. Excavations revealed that the houses of the Second Temple period were arranged in insulae (blocks) with streets running between them. Generally consisting of a large courtyard surrounded by rooms, the houses were constructed of local basalt and cement and their walls were covered with light-colored plaster. Each house had only one entrance, from the street. The courtyards were paved with basalt, and staircases were built along their walls, which gave access to the second story or the roof. Many ovens were uncovered in the courtyards, and the houses contained numerous grinding stones made of basalt.

The Synagogue The synagogue of Capernaum was an impressive structure. Built of large, white limestone blocks from the hills of Galilee west of the town, it stood out among the buildings of grey basalt surrounding it. The synagogue was built on a platform, two meters above the houses of the town, and separated from it by streets on all four sides. Oriented north-south, it had a decorated, southern façade towards Jerusalem. The synagogue consisted of a prayer hall (20.5 x 18.5 m.), a courtyard to the east (20.5 x 11 m.) and an entrance porch (4 m. wide), running along the façade of the entire building. Staircases, on both sides of the entrance porch, led to the synagogue. The prayer hall was reached from the courtyard by a single entrance. All parts of the synagogue were paved with large, thick slabs of smoothed limestone. The Prayer Hall. Basilical in plan, its outer walls were decorated with prominent, flat pilasters. Three entrances in the southern wall opened from the porch to the prayer hall. The hall was divided by a row of columns (16 in all), that created three narrow aisles along three of its walls (all except http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Capernaum.html (2 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:15

Capernaum

the southern wall of the façade). The columns were placed on high pedestals and supported Corinthian capitals. Stone benches were placed along the western and eastern walls. The researchers cannot agree whether there was a storey above the prayer hall; according to a proposed reconstruction, the prayer hall was covered by a gabled roof constructed of wooden beams with clay rooftiles. The Courtyard. An addition on the eastern side of the prayer hall, constructed at a later date, was reached from the porch in the south by two entrances, with another entrance via a staircase in the northeastern corner of the courtyard. There were three windows in the eastern wall, high above street level. The courtyard was divided by columns into a central, unroofed part, with three covered porticos along the walls, except along the western wall (shared with the prayer hall). Synagogue decorations. The synagogue was decorated with a white limestone relief of very high quality and included a number of motifs unknown from other ancient synagogues. Hundreds of fragments of decorated masonry elements were found in a heap covering the remains of the synagogue, scattered nearby, or in secondary use. These decorations once embellished the upper part of the building, mainly its outside, but despite the abundance of decorations that survived, it could only be partially restored. The figurative motifs are few and many have been broken by iconoclasts. There were figures of animals, as in a cornice depicting a sea horse and two eagles with a wreath in their beaks. An eagle also appears in the center of the lintel above the main entrance to the prayer hall. On the lintel above the western entrance to the prayer hall appears a lion; statues of lions were apparently also placed on both sides of the gabled roof (acroteria). Jewish motifs were common: a seven-branched menorah with a ram's horn and an incense shovel appears on one capital; on a lintel is a chariot, which is widely regarded as depicting the Ark of the Covenant. Among the floral motifs with Jewish connotations are palm fronds, clusters of grapes and pomegranates. There are also geometric motifs, including rosettes, stars, pentagons and hexagons. Inscriptions. On a column in the prayer hall appears the following threeline Greek inspription: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Capernaum.html (3 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:15

Capernaum

Herod son of Mo[ni]mos and Justus his son, together with (his) children, erected this column. An Aramaic inscription, found on a column which apparently stood in the courtyard of the synagogue, reads: Halfu son of Zebida, the son of Yohanan, made this column. May he be blessed. Dating the synagogue. Researchers'opinions differ regarding the date of the synagogue's construction. All agree that it is not the 1st century CE synagogue from the time of Jesus. According to most, the Galilee synagogue type, to which the Capernaum synagogue belongs, dates to the Roman period (2nd and 3rd centuries CE). It includes Roman architectural elements (the columns and the architectural elements above the columns: the architraves, the friezes and the cornices) with emphasis on the external form and decoration of the structure. Historical data also support this construction date. In this period, following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Jewish population and its religious institutions were concentrated in the Galilee, where their political and economic predominance made the building of so elaborate a synagogue posssible. In new excavations, in the foundations of the artificial podium on which the synagogue stood, some remains of the 1st century village were found, which existed until the 4th century. Pottery and coins found beneath the floor of the synagogue and in the fill of the podium date the structure, in the view of the Franciscan fathers who excavated them, to not earlier than the 4th, or the beginning of the 5th century. Among the structures uncovered beneath the prayer hall of the synagogue was a well-paved floor extending over a large area. The foundation of the western wall of the prayer hall was constructed of basalt, unlike the other limetone walls of the structure, and its orientation was also slightly different from the wall above it. The excavators concluded, therefore, that the stone floor and the lower-earlier western wall are remains of the synagogue from the time of Jesus described in the New Testament. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that it was common practice to build new synagogues and churches on the ruins of previous ones. The excavators' conclusion regarding so late a date for the synagogue at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Capernaum.html (4 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:15

Capernaum

Capernaum is most surprising and not accepted by all researchers; it could have far-reaching archeological and historical repercussions. Is it possible that the elaborate synagogue at Capernaum (and other synagogues resembling it in the Galilee), were constructed under Byzantine Christian rule, in apparent contradiction to what is known concerning the hostile attitude of the Byzantine administration towards the Jewish population. Is it possible that the Roman architectural style remained in use for building synagogues in the Galilee alongside the characteristically modest Byzantine-style buildings? These were decorated inside only, the apse faced Jerusalem and they had colorful mosaic floors with a variety of figurative motifs and Jewish symbols.

The House of Peter Located some 30m. south of the synagogue, structural remains of three building periods were uncovered. In the lowest level were remains of a dwelling of the 1st century BCE, identified by Christian tradition as the house of St. Peter. During this early period, religious significance was already attributed to the building, rooms were added and its walls and floors were covered with light-colored plaster. The building and its largest room (7 x 6.5 m.) served as a domus ecclesia (church house) for the community. Pilgrims who visited there in the Roman period left graffiti on its walls, including the words "Jesus", "Lord", "Messiah" and "God" in Greek, Latin and Syriac, as well as Christian symbols including the crucifix, a boat and fish. During the 4th century, the building was enclosed by a high-walled, square precinct (27 x 27 m.). An atrium was added at the entrance and its walls were covered with colored plaster. In the mid 5th century, an octagonal church was constructed on the earlier remains. It consisted of two concentric octagons (16.5 m. and 8 m. in diameter, respectively). The inner octagon was built directly on the walls of the House of Peter, so as to preserve a memory of that building. It was paved with colored mosaic and had a peacock, an ancient Christian symbol for eternal life, at the center. On three sides of the outer octagon were porticos paved in mosaic with geometric designs. The entrance to the building was on the west side. On the east side was a small apse with a baptismal font and rooms on each side.

Excavations in the Area Belonging to the GreekOrthodox Church http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Capernaum.html (5 of 6)2/11/2004 13:34:15

Capernaum

Excavations in this area east of the synagogue revealed remains of a village which existed from the Byzantine period to the 11th century. The houses were constructed of basalt and paved in stone. An apparently public building (13 x 13 m.) of the Byzantine period was modified to serve as living quarters in the early Islamic period. On the northern slope of the village, a planned residential area was exposed. It included a series of dwellings with courtyards and streets between them along which ran drainage channels. Evidence of destruction by earthquake (apparently in 749), was found there. The excavations were conducted by the Franciscan Fathers V. Corbo and S. Loffreda on behalf of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem. The excavations in the property of the Greek Orthodox Church were carried out by V. Tsaferis on behalf of the Department of Antiquities (now the Israel Antiquities Authority). Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man

The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man The caves are located on the western slopes of Mt. Carmel, some 20 km. south of Haifa, where Nahal Me'arot (Valley of the Caves) emerges into the Coastal Plain. They were first excavated in the 1920s and 1930s. Then new digs were conducted from the late 1960s onwards, using advanced scientific methods based on modern geological, archeological and palynological (paleontological study of pollen, fossils, etc.) research. Flint tools, animal bones and human burials found in the Carmel Caves contribute greatly to the understanding of the physical and cultural evolution of man in the early phases of his existence.

The Tabun Cave (Cave of the Oven) The Tabun Cave was occupied intermittently during the Lower and Middle Paleolithic ages (half a million to some 40,000 years ago). In the course of this extremely long period of time, deposits of sand, silt and clay of up to 25 m. accumulated in the cave. Excavation proved that it has one of the longest sequences of human occupation in the Levant. The earliest deposits contain large amounts of sea sand. This, and pollen traces found, suggest a relatively warm climate. The melting glaciers which covered large parts of the globe caused the sea level to rise and the Mediterranean coastline to recede. The Coastal Plain was narrower than it is today, and was covered with savannah vegetation. The cave dwellers used handaxes of flint or limestone for killing animals (gazelle, hippopotamus, rhinoceros and wild cattle which roamed the Coastal Plain) and for digging out plant roots. The tools improved slowly over a period of tens of thousands of years. The handaxes became smaller and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/carmel.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:17

The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man

better shaped and scrapers, made of thick flakes chipped off flint cores, were probably used for scraping meat off bones and for processing animal skins. The upper levels in the Tabun Cave consist mainly of clay and silt, indicating that a colder, more humid climate prevailed when glaciers formed once more; this caused the Mediterranean Sea level to drop some 100 m., to its present level. It also produced a wider coastal strip, covered by dense forests and swamps. The material remains from the upper strata in the Tabun Cave are of the Mousterian culture (about 200,000 - 45,000 years ago). Small flint tools, made of thin flakes, predominate here, many produced by the Levallois technique: a method of carefully trimming the flint core before the desired shape of the flake is struck off. Tools typical of this culture are elongated points, flakes of various shapes used as scrapers, end scrapers and many denticulate tools used for cutting and sawing. The diet of the people who manufactured and used these tools consisted of fruit, seeds, roots and leaves with a supplement of meat - gazelle, fallow deer, roe deer, and wild boar. The large number of bones of fallow deer found in the upper layers of the Tabun Cave may be due to the chimney-like opening in the back of the cave which functioned as a natural trap. The animals were probably herded towards it and fell into the cave where they were butchered. The Tabun Cave contains a Neanderthal-type burial of a female, dated to about 120,000 years ago. It is one of the most ancient human skeletal remains found in Israel.

The Skhul Cave (Cave of the Kids) Numerous human burials dated to approximately the same time were found in this nearby cave. Fourteen skeletons were uncovered, including three complete ones; they were defined as an archaic type of Homo sapiens, closely related to modern humans in physical appearance. It is believed that this human, with delicate facial features, a protruding chin and straight forehead, was fully developed around 100,000 years ago. The finds from these graves also show evidence of cult and rituals related to death and the spiritual realm. The finds in the cave are of major importance to anthropological http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/carmel.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:17

The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man

prehistoric research of the development of the human species. The theory that Homo sapiens did not develop from Neanderthal man, but that both lived contemporaneously, is becoming increasingly accepted: Neanderthal man became extinct while Homo sapiens developed into the modern human race.

The El-Wad Cave (Cave of the Valley) This is the largest of the Mt. Carmel caves. The accumulated layers provide evidence of human presence from the end of the occupation of the Tabun Cave (approximately 45,000 years ago). Important finds from this cave are of the Natufian culture (10,500 to 8,500 BCE), a highly developed culture relative to those preceding it. It signals the transition from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic cultures, from plant-gathering and animal-hunting to plant-growing and animaldomestication. During this period, the level of the Mediterranean Sea rose again, as the glacial period came to an end, and the coastline stabilized, to roughly its present contours. The Coastal Plain became narrower and was covered by sparse forest and grasslands, with swamps in low-lying areas. The number of animal species had declined and consisted mainly of gazelles and wild cattle. The population of the El-Wad cave used both the cave and the broad terrace in front of it. The settlement is believed to have been permanent, a unique development in terms of previous lifestyles in the caves. It consisted of a few families living in a tent-village which served as the base for hunting expeditions and food gathering. The Natufian flint tools are of very high quality and delicacy, very small and carefully retouched. These microliths were primarily scrapers for treating animal skins, points for wood- and bone-working, awls for piercing stones used as fishing weights, skins and decorative beads, blades for cutting meat and sawing bone and sickle blades (secured in wooden or bone scythes) for harvesting grain (which left a characteristic gloss on the edge of the blades). There were also microliths of lunate shape, used as arrowheads, for harpoons and as fish hooks and larger tools made of rough chunks of flint for cracking bones and hard-shelled seeds. Grinding tools, mortars and pestles made of stone, were used for food processing. On the terrace in front of the cave, more then one hundred individual http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/carmel.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:17

The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man

human burials were excavated. The dead were buried in a tightly flexed position, some with ornaments made of stone, bone or dentalia shell. The large number of skeletons provided anthropologists with the opportunity to study the physical characteristics of this Natufian population. The average height was between 1.58 and 1.65 m., the heads relatively large with wide and rather low foreheads, characteristics typical of populations of this period in the eastern Mediterranean Basin. The El-Wad cave is now open to the public and visitors may appraise the many prehistoric finds and their place in the development of the human race.

The Tabun cave was excavated (1969-71) by A.J. Jellinek of the University of Arizona and since 1971 under the direction of A. Ronen of Haifa University. The El-Wad cave was excavated by F. Falla of the French Archeological Mission in Jerusalem and by O. Bar Yosef of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1980-81), and since 1980 by M. Weinstein-Evron on behalf of Haifa University.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Cave of the Treasure

Cave of the Treasure by Hillel Geva

The "Cave of the Treasure" is located on a cliff in a canyon that descends through the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea, some 10 km. southwest of EinGedi. This is an extremely hot, dry region which helped to preserve the archeological finds. In the Judean Desert expedition of 1960-1961, tens of caves in the canyons were searched and several of them excavated. The Cave of the Treasure is a natural cave with a broad opening on the cliffside. Its mouth is some 50 m. below the top of the cliff that drops another 250 m. to the bed of the canyon. In the past, a narrow path along the cliff led to the cave, but it collapsed from erosion and rock falls. The excavators had to reach the cave by means of a ladder. This cave, like others in the region, was inhabited in the Chalcolithic period (4th millenium BCE) and deep occupation layers, mainly of ash and refuse, were found, including many artifacts: crude hand-made clay vessels decorated with red paint, typical of the period; globular stone grinding and pounding vessels; flint implements used for cutting and as arrowheads; bone implements such as awls; and necklaces of shell, bone and semi-precious stones. Portions of a loom built of wooden beams, stone and clay loom weights, spatulas showing signs of use, spindle whorls, and cloth pieces of woven linen and wool were found, as well as wooden artifacts, strainers, portions of straw mats, ropes and basketry and even part of a leather garment and the sole of a sandal. The botanical finds attest to the food of the inhabitants of the cave: wheat and barley, lentils, olives and dates. Faunal remains include bones of sheep and goats, hunted http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/cave.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:36

Cave of the Treasure

animals such as deer and ibex, and a variety of birds. In this cave and in the one next to it, burials of men, women and children, placed in pits with pottery vessels, were uncovered. The Hoard At a depth of approximately 2 m. below the present floor, a crevice in the northern wall of the cave was found. In it, wrapped in a reed mat, was a hoard of 429 artifacts, all made of copper, except for a very few of stone or ivory. They were undamaged and well preserved, despite the fact that they had been hidden there over 5,500 years ago. These artifacts were produced by casting and hammering techniques of a very high level. The dating of the hoard to the Chalcolithic period was based on comparison with finds from other sites of this period. The similarity with the decorative motifs on ceramic ossuaries associated with this period in other regions is noteworthy. The dating was confirmed by Carbon 14 testing of the reed mat as 3500-2800 BCE. The hoard of copper artifacts includes implements of many forms and with a variety of decorations: Tools: chisels and axes of various sizes (15-35 cm.), some elongated and flat and some short and thick. Mace heads: some 240 mace heads of various size (3–6 cm. in diameter, weighing between 100–700 gm.), no two identical. They are of many shapes – globular, flattened, disk-shaped and spiked; highly polished, some with impressed or protruding decoration; all perforated from top to bottom for a wooden handle (some fragments of these were found). There are also several maceheads made of haenatite. Standards: 80 of these, 10-40 cm. long and 2-3 cm. in diameter; some hollow and some solid. Many are decorated with engraved lines, herringbone pattern, or globular or flat protrusions; some are decorated with images of animals such as ibex, deer, squab, wild goat and birds. Crowns: ten crowns, similar in form, but varying in size: 15.5-19 cm. in diameter, 9-17.5 cm. in height, 930-1,970 gm. in weight. The walls are concave, decorated with herringbone and spiral patterns. On top of the crowns protrude architectural motifs (gates), animals and birds, a human face and prominent horns.

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Cave of the Treasure

Other bronze implements in the hoard include small baskets with high, arcshaped handles and horns. Among the finds are several unique objects made of hippopotamus ivory. Shaped like a scythe, they are 30-40 cm. long (one exceptional example is 55 cm. long, 7 cm. wide and weighs 800 gm.). They are flat and have rows of drilled holes (47-73 each). At the center is a large hole with a ridge around it. They may have been carried on cultic standards of wooden poles, inserted into the central hole.

Summary The quantity of dwelling remains and the nature of the finds (apart from the objects of the hoard) attest to the cave's occupation over an extended period of time. Caves were frequently inhabited in the Chalcolithic period, but the researchers concluded that these cave dwellers were not refugees in a temporary hiding place. The caves in the region seem to have been inhabited mainly in the spring grazing season; on the plateau above the cave an enclosure was found, measuring 37 x 27 m., surrounded by a low stone fence. One view is that this was a cultic center, but more probably it was a pen for livestock. The forms of the artifacts in the hoard and the variety of artistic motifs indicate that these were cultic objects. Some of the decorations attest to a fertility cult. They also provide rich evidence of the artistic abilities of the population of this region in the Chalcolithic period. Their cultic rituals undoubtedly included prayers to the gods for success in hunting, in grazing their flocks and in agriculture, as well as for protection from enemies. The great quantity and variety of finds could be indicative of an organized socio-political and religious hierarchy and of the nature of the rituals performed in a temple of the region. There is also evidence of a large number of participants in religious rituals and festivals. The copper objects of the hoard weigh many tens of kilograms, the value of which was obviously enormous at the time, since use of copper had only just begun in the Chalcholithic period, and its production was a long and expensive process. Anthropological study of the skeletons found in the cave show that the population was not of local origin; the technological attributes and decorations of the artifacts may have their origin in Mesopotamia. It is not clear why the hoard was deposited in this cave. The vessels were http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/cave.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:36

Cave of the Treasure

probably used in a central regional temple, possibly in the Chalcolithic temple discovered on a terrace above Ein Gedi, which was found completely empty (see Archeological Sites in Israel No. 4, pp. 34-35). It has been proposed that the priests of that temple, or the inhabitants of the region, assembled the temple's cultic objects at a time of approaching danger and hid them in the cave for safekeeping. The fate of the Chalcolithic inhabitants is also not known. They may have fled, or been killed, leaving the hoard safely behind, to be discovered by Israeli archeologists. The Cave of the Treasure was excavated by P. Bar-Adon on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Exploration Society and the Department of Antiquities (today the Israel Antiquities Authority). Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Church of John the Baptist Discovered

Church of John the Baptist Discovered (July 20, 1999)

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on July 3, 1999, that a sixth century Byzantine church dedicated to John the Baptist has been discovered at the Tel a-Shakef dig at an Israel military installation in the Gaza Strip. The Church, measuring 13x25 meters in area, is covered in marble floor tiles and multi-colored mosaics of geometric shapes and flora motifs, as well as three Greek inscriptions, translated by IAA Professor Vassilios Tzaperis as follows: 1. A line from Psalms 95:1, "O come, let us sing unto the Lord," mistakenly rendered as, "O come, let us become sanctified unto the Lord." 2. Deuteronomy 28:6: "Blessed will you be when you come in, and blessed will you be when you go out." 3. At the entrance to the church is a multi-colored mosaic of a medallion containing 11 lines that state that the church is dedicated to John the Baptist, was founded in 544 and completed in 550, and praise the church’s donors - Victor and John. Dig Director Ya’akov Huster, on behalf of the IAA, stated that a previous excavation at the site revealed a magnificent bathhouse and fish pond in almost perfect condition, next to the church. "These discoveries show that http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/johnbap.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:34:38

Church of John the Baptist Discovered

this was a major church in a successful community in the mid-sixth century, during the reign of Justinian." The site is located at a military installation in the northwest edge of the Gaza Strip, in an area under Israeli military and civilian control. The excavation is being conducted by the archeology officer for Judea and Samaria and the base commander, with the aid of the Employment Service as part of a public works project for the unemployed.

Source: Israel Government Press Office, March 7, 1999

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The Church of the House of Peter

The Church of the House of Peter

"As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the house of Simon and Andrew." (Mark 1:29) Archeological investigations carried out over a 70-year period (at the beginning of the 20th century) by the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (Jerusalem) revealed an octagonal mid-5th-century ecclesiastical structure built around an earlier one-room dwelling dated to the 1st century CE. The central octagonal shrine, enclosing a dry-wall basalt structure, was surrounded by an octagonal ambulatory similar to the ambulatory in the Rotunda of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; or the later octagonal Islamic shrine built on the Haram esh-Sharif (the Temple Mount). The room contained within the central octagonal shrine appears to have been part of an insula (a complex of small single-storey residential rooms and courtyards) that toward the end of the 1st century was put to public use, possibly as a domus ecclesia, a private house used as a church. The plastered walls of the enshrined room were found to be scratched with graffiti in Aramaic, Greek, Syriac and Latin, containing the words "Jesus", "Lord", "Christ" and "Peter". The enshrined room is presumed to be the "House of Simon, called Peter" reported by the Spanish pilgrim, the Lady Egeria, who visited the town sometime between 381-384 during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She described in some detail how the house of "the prince of Apostles" had been made into a church, with its original walls still standing. In the mid-5th century, this room was enshrined within an octagonalshaped building. This was the church later described by the 6th-century http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/stpeter.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:34:39

The Church of the House of Peter

Piacenza Pilgrim who wrote, "The house of St. Peter is now a basilica." Like the nearby synagogue, the octagonal-shaped church was destroyed early in the 7th century, possibly at the time of the Persian invasion. The present Franciscan church was built in 1990 over the site of the Insula Sacra to preserve the archeological finds and to permit visitors and worshippers an overview of the various architectural elements.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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The Church of the Seat of Mary (Kathisma)

The Church of the Seat of Mary (Kathisma)

Remains of a Byzantine-period church were discovered in 1992 near the Monastery of Mar Elias, when the highway between Jerusalem and Bethlehem was widened and a bulldozer accidentally uncovered and damaged a mosaic floor. In the first, limited excavations (October 1992 – February 1993) only a section of the western part of the church was uncovered, revealing mosaic floors which were re-covered to ensure their preservation. Located in an ancient olive grove within the southern municipal borders of Jerusalem, on land owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the site is bordered in the south by a terrace with an open water reservoir, known by its Arabic name, Bir Kadismu. Bir means water cistern or reservoir, Kadismu preserves the Greek name of the place, Kathisma, meaning "seat." Renewed excavations in 1997 revealed a large church built in the 5th century and restored in the 6th century. In the 8th century, it was converted into a mosque, and was destroyed shortly thereafter. The size of the building and its sophisticated, octagonal plan indicate that this was a church of great importance. Surrounding the flat, protruding rock (the "seat"), which is its focal point, were two octagonal hallways: the inner one served as a walkway (ambulatoria) from which the worshippers could view the stone seat; the outer hallway was divided into rooms and four chapels. The whole church was surrounded by a square envelope, divided into rooms with mosaic floors.

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The Church of the Seat of Mary (Kathisma)

Nearly all the rooms of the church were paved in colored mosaics; some had been added in the 8th century. The mosaics are in many shades of red, yellow and green in a variety of floral and geometric designs, the small tessarae laid on a firm plaster bedding. Among the motifs are guilloches (braided bands) interspersed with medallions of floral designs. Depicted in the corners of the southern room of the church are four cornucopiae (horns of plenty), supporting acanthus leaves from which grape tendrils emanate. According to the 6th century "Life of Theodosius", the church and the monastery of the "Old Kathisma" were built by the wealthy widow Ikelia at the time of Juvenalis, Bishop of Jerusalem (450 – 458). The account indicates that the church was built on the resting-place of Mary, halfway on the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and dedicated to Mary Theotokos (God bearer). Also, that St. Theodosius himself, who lived in the 5th century, was sent for training as a monk to the monastery of the "Old Kathisma". From the 12th century onwards, a water cistern in this areas was noted as a holy site; it served as a refreshment and rest station for pilgrims traveling on the Jerusalem-Bethlehem road until the end of the last century. The site is at present covered over and not open to the public. The excavations were directed by R. Avner on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Dan: The Biblical City

Dan: The Biblical City

The mound of the biblical city of Dan is located at the foot of Mount Hermon in the northeast of the country. The fertility of the area around Dan is mentioned in the Bible: For we have seen the Land, and behold, it is very good. (Judges 18:9) The site extends over an area of 200 dunams (50 acres). The Dan river, one of the sources of the Jordan river, emerges at the foot of the mound. These natural advantages and its location on the main trade route from the Galilee to Damascus made Dan the most important city of the northern part of the Kingdom of Israel. Today it is one of the most attractive archeological sites in Israel. Every year since 1966, large areas have been excavated; the discoveries are of special importance for understanding the biblical narrative which repeatedly mentions the city of Dan.

Canaanite Dan During the Canaanite period the city was known by the name Leshem (Joshua 19:47) or Laish (Judges 18:29). During the 18th century BCE, Laish was fortified with huge man-made earthen embankments which created ramparts encircling the entire city. The ramparts of Canaanite Dan constitute one of the best examples of the defense systems common in that period. On the eastern side of the city, an intact city gate complex was preserved, consisting of two towers flanking a recessed arched gateway. Stone steps led from the outside to the 2.4 m. wide entrances. The 18th century BCE http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/dan.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:43

Dan: The Biblical City

ramparts with the gate provided adequate defense for Canaanite Laish. During this period, the patriarch Abraham came to the city, after defeating the kings of the north who took his nephew Lot prisoner. (Genesis14:14)

Laish Becomes Dan Above the destruction level of the last Canaanite city, a new occupation level was revealed, very different in architectural character and material culture. This new settlement pattern represents the conquest and settlement of the city by the tribe of Dan during the 12th century BCE. The tribe of Dan had previously occupied a small area in the western foothills of the Judean mountains. The Bible relates how 600 members of the tribe migrated northward and after conquering Laish ...called the name of the city Dan after the name of Dan their father. (Judges 18:29)

The Israelite Bamah (High Place) of Dan Above the spring, on the northern side of the mound, the cultic precinct of the Israelite city of Dan was exposed. The existence of a cultic center at Dan is attested to in the biblical text: ...and the children of Dan set up for themselves the graven image. (Judges 18:30) The High Place exposed at Dan was established by Jeroboam I, king of Israel at the end of the 10th century BCE, after the division of the kingdom. Jeroboam I built altars bearing a golden calf in two cities: ...he set one in Beth-el and the other he put in Dan...and the people went up to worship...even unto Dan. (1 Kings 12:29-30) The sanctuary occupied an area of about 60 x 45 m. In the broad courtyard, enclosed by a wall with rooms around it, stood an altar. It was restored in the mid-9th century BCE by Ahab, king of Israel, who had a large (20 x 18 m.) bamah erected. The outer walls of the bamah were composed of large ashlars with a groove between the courses, which originally contained a wooden beam; this is reminiscent of the construction of the Solomonic Temple in Jerusalem: ...with three courses of hewn stones and one course of cedar beams. (1 Kings 6:36; 7:12) During the reign of Jeroboam II at the beginning of the 8th century BCE, a monumental staircase was added to the southern side of the bamah and a smaller altar was erected. In one of the rooms bordering the cultic enclosure, three iron shovels (54 cm. long) were found, which may be identified as mahta and ya'eh which were used in the Temple in Jerusalem to remove the ashes from the altar. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/dan.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:43

Dan: The Biblical City

The bamah of Dan was destroyed when the city was captured by Tiglath Pileser, king of Assyria, in 732 BCE. Soon thereafter, it was restored but never regained its former importance. An inscription from the Hellenistic period, in Greek and Aramaic, incised on a flat limestone slab, was found at the site. It mentions Zoilos (Zilas in Aramaic) who made a vow "to the god who is in Dan." This provides proof positive of the identification of the site as biblical Dan.

The Israelite City Gate Complex The monumental city gate complex and a long section of the wall of Israelite Dan were exposed at the foot of the southern side of the mound. A 400 m2 square leads to the gate complex, which is composed of an outer and an inner gate, both built of large basalt stones. Beyond these gates, a magnificent processional road winds its way up the slope to the city. The inner gate is the best preserved and is a good example of Israelite city gates during biblical times. It consisted of four guard rooms, two on each side of a paved passageway. The threshold, made of a large basalt stone, includes the doorstop and hinge-sockets which once supported the massive wooden doors. Outside this gate, five undressed stones (up to 60 cm. in height) were found standing erect. They served as matzevot (erect stones) marking a cultic place. In this context, Josiah's deed comes to mind: he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city... (2 Kings 23:8) Also outside this gate a bench was exposed, reminiscent of the place where the elders sat in biblical times, a custom referred to many times in the Bible. (Genesis 19:1; Psalms 69:13; Ruth 4:1-2) Next to the opening of the gate itself, four squat, decorated stones served to hold four pillars supporting a canopy. It is probable that the king or judge sat here when he came to the city. Then the king arose, and sat in the gate and they told all the people, saying behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king. (2 Samuel 19:8)

The Aramaic Stele http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/dan.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:43

Dan: The Biblical City

Fragments of a large inscribed basalt stele were found in the square located in front of the Israelite city gate complex. The largest of these fragments measures 32 x 22 cm. and, of the original inscription, thirteen lines have been partially preserved. The language is ancient Aramaic. The 9th century BCE and the beginning of the 8th century BCE were marked by military conflicts between the kings of Israel and the expanding kingdom of Aram-Damascus. (1 Kings 15:20) Thus the stele was erected by one of the Aramean kings of Damascus who captured Dan - although which king cannot be ascertained as yet. It is probable that in lines 7-8 two kings of Israel and Judah, who ruled at the same time, are mentioned: Jehoram, king of Israel and Ahaziah, king of Judah, referred to as a king of the House of David. These two kings were allies and were defeated by Hazael, king of Aram-Damascus. (2 Kings 8:7-15, 28; 9:2429; 2 Chronicles 22:5) The stele describing Hazael's victory over his enemies was, in all probability, erected by him when he conquered Dan in the mid-9th century BCE. It is reasonable to assume that Jehoash, king of Israel, who fought the Arameans three times and defeated them (2 Kings 13:25) recovering territories previously lost, including the city of Dan, symbolically smashed the stele erected there by Hazael, king of AramDamascus. Although the broken stele raises serious historical problems, it is one of the most important written finds in Israel and the first non-biblical text which mentions the House of David by name. It is hoped that more fragments of this unique stele will be uncovered in future excavations. Excavated by A. Biran, on behalf of Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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The Eilat Region

The Eilat Region Eilat, the southernmost city of Israel, is located on the northern shore of the Red Sea. The location of biblical Eilat has been identified as that of present-day Akaba in Jordan, which has the only water source in the region. Akaba is located across the gulf from present-day Eilat. Eilat is mentioned several times in the Bible, mainly in connection with King Solomon: King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Etzion-Geber near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. (1 Kings 9:26) The ongoing conflict between Solomon - and later kings of Judah and the Kingdom of Edom over control of Eilat was primarily for economic reasons, since it was on the trade route from the East to the Mediterranean ports. During the Roman and Byzantine periods, Eilat was a fort protecting the southern border of the empire against incursions of nomadic Arabian tribes. In the Middle Ages, the region became important as a crossroads for Muslim pilgrims en route to the Hejaz and its holy cities, Mecca and Medina. At first glance the desert region of Eilat appears unsuited for human settlement. However, a large number of surveys and excavations carried out near the city since the 1980s have provided evidence of agricultural settlements, encampments and cult sites which existed there over the past several thousands of years. The sites described below are examples of periods when the region flourished; during other periods the "desert" returned and human activity became minimal.

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The Eilat Region

Prehistoric Sites in the Uvda Valley This valley is located in the mountainous region northwest of Eilat. It is covered with rich alluvial soil from the surrounding mountains. In Neolithic times (8th-4th millennia BCE) there was more rainfall in this region than there is today. This created a savannah environment, permitting human hunter-gatherers to live on wild grains and on the meat of hunted animals (deer, gazelle, wild ass and birds). The Nahal Ashrun site, in the eastern part of the valley, has been almost completely excavated. This site, of some 400 square meters, dates from the 8th-7th millennia BCE and consists of several dozen rounded stone dwellings, two to four meters in diameter, built close together. The inhabitants of this Neolithic village were hunters, as evidenced by hundreds of flint arrowheads and bones of undomesticated animals found in the dwellings; they also gathered wild grain, which they ground on the primitive grindstones found in the settlement. Another cult site in the Uvda Valley, an open-air sanctuary, consists of a 12 x 12 m. square courtyard surrounded by a low stone wall. The corners of this structure correspond to the four points of the compass. Three conical basins containing ashes were found in the courtyard and in the center of a ritual cell stood sixteen 20 to 30 cm. high upright stones. Carbon-14 tests provided a 6th millennium BCE date for the site. A short distance from the sanctuary, a group of sixteen life-size representations of animals, made of small rectangular pieces of limestone, were found embedded into the ground. Fifteen of them face east and represent leopards with square heads, huge eyes, four legs and an upwardcurving tail. One horned animal faces west, the slightly twisted horns suggesting an antelope. Is it possible that this was a cult-site where supplication to the gods for protection of the shepherds and their flocks against predators (leopards) was practiced thousands of years ago? During the Chalcolithic period (4th millennium BCE), an agricultural revolution took place in the region. Hunting and gathering of grain were replaced by cultivation of barley and wheat and by herds of domesticated goats and sheep. Small settlements with planned stone dwellings and stone-lined grain silos dug into the ground were uncovered throughout the valley. Harvesting of the grain was done with sickles of bone or wood, into which toothed flint blades had been inserted; the grain was ground on grindstones, many of which were found in the dwellings.

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The Eilat Region

The Roman Fortress at Yotvata The fortress is located in the Arava Valley, some 40 km. north of Eilat. Built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (284 -305) as part of a line of border fortresses (limes) in the Negev, it was manned by cavalry and camel riders to protect the trade route against marauding Arab nomads. The fortress was a typical Roman military building D a square of 40 x 40 m., surrounded by a wall with four projecting towers at the corners. The lower part of the wall was built of stone, while the upper part was made of sunbaked mudbricks. The only gate was in the eastern wall, facing the road along the Arava Valley. At the foot of the gate a carefully dressed limestone slab measuring 67 x 58 cm. was found, inscribed with Latin text in the rectangular frame and the two "ears", one on each of its sides. Of the nine lines of text, two and a half lines were intentionally obliterated. The inscription is dedicated to Emperor Diocletian and his three co-regents and commemorates the construction of the gate-wing of the fortress under the supervision of the governor, Priscus. The inscription reads: For perpetual peace Diocletian Augustus and Maximian Augustus and Constantius and Maximianus the most noble Caesars erected the wing with the gate, by care of Priscus the governor of the province of (Syria Palestina?) (left "ear") Numerous vows for the twenty year jubilee (right "ear") Numerous vows for the forty year jubilee

Settlements of the Early Arab Period In Wadi Tawahin, about 4 kms. north of Eilat, an industrial site of the Umayyad period (7th to 8th centuries) was excavated. It consisted of several round and rectangular one-room structures. Many round diorite grinding mills and stone anvils for crushing were found in and around these structures. On the floors, and especially near the mills, a white powder was found which chemical analysis showed to contain minute http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/eilat.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:45

The Eilat Region

quantities of gold (one gram per one ton of rock), indicating that the site had served for processing gold. At Ein Evrona, located a few kilometers north of Eilat, remains of a farmstead of the early Arab period (7th - 9th centuries) were excavated. Water for irrigation was collected by means of a very sophisticated manmade system. A deep well was dug into the aquifer at the foot of the mountains; from it, a series of shafts with connecting tunnels was dug. The water flowed through the tunnels by gravitation and then along an open ditch to the cultivated fields. The water system at Ein Evrona was explored over a length of one kilometer, of which 600 meters are a subterranean tunnel, wide and deep enough for a man to walk through. The fields of the farm had enclosure walls and dams and they were prepared with much care. Three buildings were excavated, one of them consisting of two rooms. It is assumed that this was a viable farm which probably also provided services to the caravans passing through the Arava.

The sites in the Uvda Valley were excavated by O. Yogev and U. Avner on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority The fortress at Yotvata was excavated by Z. Meshel on behalf of Tel Aviv University The settlements in Wadi Tawahin were excavated by U. Avner on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority The site at Ein Evrona was excavated by Y. Porath on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Ein Gedi: An Ancient Oasis Settlement

Ein Gedi: An Ancient Oasis Settlement

Ein Gedi is an oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, some 400 m. below sea level. Extreme heat and aridity prevail in this desert region throughout most of the year. But perennial fresh water springs (Ein is Hebrew for spring) flow down from the high cliffs of the Judean Desert and have made permanent settlement and agriculture possible since ancient times. Ein Gedi is mentioned in many historical sources and the abundant finds from archeological excavations which have been conducted since the 1960s make it possible to trace the long history of this unique place.

A Chalcolithic Temple In the Chalcolithic period (4th millennium BCE), a temple was erected at the Ein Gedi oasis which served as a cultic center for the nomadic tribes of the region. The temple compound was built on a rock terrace above the spring. It consisted of several separate single-roomed stone structures, built around a large courtyard which was surrounded by a wall. The temple complex was reached via a gateway, consisting of a square chamber with benches. The temple itself stood opposite, on the other side of the courtyard. It was rectangular in shape (20 x 2.5 m.), with stone-built benches along its walls and an altar on which animal bones and ash were found, testifying to its use as a sacrificial altar. Only the structural remains of the abandoned temple were uncovered; researchers believe that the priests of the temple fled in the face of approaching danger, taking with them the many cult artifacts accumulated during generations of use. The temple was never used again, but due to the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/eingedi.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:47

Ein Gedi: An Ancient Oasis Settlement

arid desert conditions it has been well preserved to the present day.

The Village at Tel Goren During the biblical period, Ein Gedi and the surrounding desert, known as the Wilderness of Ein Gedi, were part of the territory of the Tribe of Judah. David sought refuge from King Saul at Ein Gedi. (1 Samuel 24:1) The first permanent settlement was built on the low hill, Tel Goren, at the end of the monarchic period (second half of the 7th century BCE). The houses of the small village were built close together on terraces; each consisted of two rooms and a courtyard. In them were large clay vats for the storage of drinking water or liquids made from special plants growing in the area. Royal seal impressions, and others bearing personal names, as well as a hoard of silver pieces were found in the ruins of the village, indicating wealth and economic importance. During the Persian period (5th-4th centuries BCE) the village grew in area. Among the buildings was a prominent, large structure (550 sq.m.), probably two stories high. It had many rooms, courtyards and storerooms in which numerous artifacts, including royal seal impressions were found. These attest to the continuing importance of the village. In the Hasmonean and Herodian periods (first century BCE to first century CE) the Jewish settlement at Ein Gedi thrived, expanded and became a royal estate. At Tel Goren, a well-fortified citadel was built to protect the village and its agricultural products against raiding nomads. At this time Ein Gedi expanded and spread to the low, flat hill at the foot of Tel Goren. Ein Gedi was destroyed and abandoned during the First Jewish Rebellion against Rome (66-70 CE). In renewed excavations, beginning in 1996, some 30 stone-built cells, clustered around a small spring, were found northwest of Tel Goren. The excavator suggests that this might have been a monastic site of the Essene sect, whose members lived in isolated communities in the desert near the Dead Sea during the Roman period. During the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 CE), Ein Gedi was an important outpost of the rebels, as recorded in the Bar Kochba letters found in the Dead Sea area. Later, a Roman garrison was stationed at Ein Gedi. During the Roman and Byzantine periods (2nd-6th century), the oasis was http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/eingedi.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:47

Ein Gedi: An Ancient Oasis Settlement

an imperial estate and the settlement at En-Gedi reached the peak of its prosperity. Eusebius, 4th century bishop of Caesarea, describes Ein Gedi as a "very large Jewish village." In the course of excavations, remains of dwellings, water installations and shops along streets, were uncovered. During this period, stone terraces were constructed on the hillsides and a sophisticated water system, including storage pools and a network of irrigation channels, was developed. These measures, initiated by the central administration, made for expanded, efficient and intensive cultivation of tropical plants and the production of perfumes and medicines. Especially famous and costly was Balsam, a perfume produced from a plant that grew only in this region. To protect the cultivated areas and to control the trade route, a fortress and watch towers were built.

The Synagogue The synagogue at Ein Gedi dates from the Roman-Byzantine period, but it underwent several changes in the course of its use. When first built at the beginning of the 3rd century, it was a modest, trapezoidal structure. In its northern wall, facing Jerusalem, were two openings. The floor was of simple white mosaic with a swastika pattern in black tesserae in the center. This pattern has been interpreted as a decorative motif or as a good luck symbol. The synagogue underwent far-reaching renovations during the fourth century: The opening in the center of the northern wall was blocked and made into a square niche which probably contained a wooden Torah ark; along the opposite southern side a three-stepped bench was built; the building was divided by two rows of square pillars into a central hall with two aisles; the entrance was through three openings in the western wall. In the mid 5th century, the synagogue underwent a further change, but its trapezoidal shape was preserved. Its dimensions were now 16 m. on the western side, 13.5 m. on the eastern side, with a width of 12.5 m. and it was two stories high. A platform (bema) containing a semi-circular niche surrounded by a chancel screen was added to the northern side of the building facing Jerusalem. The whole interior of the synagogue and the pillars were covered with white plaster and painted decorations and a new, colored mosaic floor was laid. The central hall contained a mosaic carpet decorated with a pattern of four-petalled flowers; in the center is a circle with four birds and on the corners of the outer, square frame are pairs of peacocks. The decoration opposite the bema included three seven-branched http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/eingedi.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:47

Ein Gedi: An Ancient Oasis Settlement

menorot (candelabra). The floor of the western aisle, through which one entered the prayer hall, included five inscriptions. These include an Aramaic inscription mentioning the local community as well as private donors who contributed toward the construction and maintenance of the synagogue. One inscription also includes a warning and a curse: Warnings to those who commit sins causing dissension in the community, passing malicious information to the gentiles, or revealing the secrets of the town. The one whose eyes roam over the entire earth and sees what is concealed will uproot this person and his seed from under the sun and all the people will say, Amen. Selah. Two inscriptions in Hebrew relate to Jewish tradition. One notes the names of the thirteen fathers of the world according to 1 Chronicles l:l-4: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mehalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Another lists the names of the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve months of the Hebrew calender; the three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and the names of the three companions of Daniel: Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; and a blessing: Peace upon Israel. The synagogue was destroyed by fire, probably during the reign of the Emperor Justinian (second half of the 6th century), a period of Jewish persecution. Among the items in the destruction debris was a unique find: a 30 cm. high seven-branched candelabrum made of bronze. The synagogue building has recently been restored and a huge, protective tent covers it, enabling visitors to enjoy this beautiful synagogue of the Jewish community which once lived at Ein Gedi. The Tel Goren excavations, 1961-1965, were headed by B. Mazar on behalf of the Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society; the Synagogue was excavated 1970-1972, under the direction of D. Barag and Y. Porath, on behalf of the Hebrew University, the Israel Exploration Society and the Israel Department of Antiquities (today, the Israel Antiquities Authority); renewed excavations at Ein Gedi were conducted by Y. Hirschfeld on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Exploration Society. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/eingedi.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:47

Ein Gedi: An Ancient Oasis Settlement

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Ein Hatzeva: An Israelite Fortress on the Border with Edom

Ein Hatzeva: An Israelite Fortress on the Border with Edom

Remains of several Israelite fortresses at Ein Hatseva (Ein means “spring” in Hebrew) are located on a low hill in the Arava Valley, some 35 kms. south of the Dead Sea. The spring – a source of fresh water in this desert region – and the strategic position of the hill at the intersection of the main Arava road and the Negev-Edom road were the reasons for the building of consecutive fortresses on this spot over the course of about 1,000 years. Each fortress served as the military and administrative center for the region as well as a caravan station. The ruins of Hatseva had already been surveyed at the beginning of the century and identified as the Biblical Tamar: The border shall be even from Tamar by the waters of strife in Kadesh (Ezekiel 48:28) and as the Roman Tamara. The identification was confirmed in the course of excavations conducted between 1987 and 1995.

The 10th century BCE fortress This fortress, dating to the reign of King Solomon, was a small fortified structure, part of the network of fortifications built to secure the southern border of the united kingdom (before it split into Israel and Judah) and to exercise control over the trade routes leading to the Gulf of Eilat. (1 Kings 9:16-18)

The 9th - 8th centuries BCE fortress As the previous fortress was considered inadequate to serve its purpose, a http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Hatzeva.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:49

Ein Hatzeva: An Israelite Fortress on the Border with Edom

new fortress was built and surrounded by a 50 x 50 m. fortified wall. A short time later it was expanded and became a mighty fortress with massive defenses, reaching the peak of its importance as a central component in the border defenses of the Kingdom of Judah. It served as a way station on the trade routes along which valuable goods (spices and perfumes) were transported from Arabia to this region. The fortress was a square, 100 x 100 m. structure, comparable in area to a town, such as Be’er Sheva, during that period. The earlier, smaller fortress including its gate thus became an inner fortress. In its courtyard were located the royal stores and silos, where food for times of siege was stored; remnants of wheat and barley were found at the bottom of one of the silos. The casemate wall of the enlarged fortress was some three meters thick, the casemates filled with packed earth for added strength; ramparts protected its foundations. Massive, protruding towers rose above the corners, and the walls between them were buttressed. A well-fortified gate in the northeastern corner of the fortress still stands today to an impressive height of three meters. It was a four-chambered gatehouse, a type common in that period, and consisted of two pairs of chambers on both sides of a four-meter-wide central passageway. A paved ramp led from outside to this gate; from its roof the approaches were visible to a great distance. This 9th - 8th centuries BCE fortress is one of the largest and most impressive one dating to the biblical period of the kings of Judah. It was probably built at the initiative of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah (867-846 BCE), in his attempt to renew commercial links with southern Arabia via the Gulf of Akaba. (1 Kings 22:49) Another possibility is that the fortress was built by King Amaziah (798-769 BCE) or his son King Uzziah (769733 BCE) who fought against Edom and strengthened the fortifications along the long southern border of the Kingdom of Judah. (2 Kings 3:4-15; 14:7; 2 Chronicles 26:2, 10) The fortress was apparently damaged in the earthquake which shook Judah in the mid-8th century BCE. (Amos 1:1) The weakening of the kingdom’s control in the Negev made Edomite expansion possible, which resulted in the destruction of the fortress towards the end of the 8th century BCE.

The 7th century BCE fortress

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Ein Hatzeva: An Israelite Fortress on the Border with Edom

The fortress at Hatseva was rebuilt on a smaller scale during this period, but only portions of its eastern side, including the wall and towers, have been preserved; most of the structure was destroyed when the Roman period fortress was constructed. The 7th century BCE Edomite Temple A unique hoard of ritual vessels was found in a repository in the open-air cultic shrine north of the fortress. Over the years, dozens of ritual clay vessels and several stone altars accumulated in this Edomite temple. Outstanding among them are bowl-shaped incense stands on high, round, fenestrated bases; from one such bowl, tiny clay pomegranates, symbols of fertility, are suspended on hooks. Particularly impressive are the anthropomorphic stands. Limbs and facial features of human figures were molded separately and affixed to vessels, painted in reddish hues. Upon the heads of the figures are bud-decorated bowls, used for offerings and the burning of incense. One of the stands depicts two goats facing each other with two identical anthropomorphic figurines between them; a bowl to which flying doves are affixed sits atop this unusual object. It appears that Hatseva of the 7th century BCE had been an open-air Edomite temple, which served the traders on their way from Edom to the Negev. It was probably destroyed – and the ritual objects broken – during Josiah’s religious reforms at the end of the 7th century BCE. The Bible recounts (2 Kings 22-23) that during purification of the Temple in Jerusalem the Torah (Pentateuch) was rediscovered and that King Josiah ordered all pagan cultic sites destroyed.

The fortress from the Roman and Byzantine period This fortress was part of the network of fortifications guarding the border of the Negev, to prevent the penetration of nomadic tribes and to safeguard the profitable trade routes leading to the Mediterranean ports. Next to the fortress, a large bathhouse was constructed in the third or fourth century for use of the troops and of the travelers who stopped to rest. After excavation, the remains of the Hatseva fortress have been partly restored and the site is now open to visitors traveling along the Arava road on their way to and from Eilat. The excavations were directed by R. Cohen and Y. Yisrael on behalf of the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Hatzeva.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:49

Ein Hatzeva: An Israelite Fortress on the Border with Edom

Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Ekron: A Philistine City

Ekron: A Philistine City

Tel Mikne, near the traditional border between Philistia and Judah, was identified as the biblical Philistine city of Ekron. The square tel (mound) rises only a few meters above the fertile plain and consists of a small upper tel and a large lower one to the south. Major excavations were conducted at Tel Mikne between 1981 and 1996, providing much information about the history and culture of Philistine Ekron during the 600 years of its existence (from the 12th to the end of the 7th century BCE), and proof of the identification as Ekron was found in an inscription uncovered in its temple complex. In the second millennium BCE, Tel Mikne was a large Canaanite city, at first covering all parts of the tel, but later confined to a settlement on the acropolis, where a public building destroyed by conflagration in the 13th century BCE was uncovered. Many of its rooms were used as granaries, as evidenced by jars containing grain and carbonized foodstuffs; one jar contained figs threaded on a string, reminiscent of the biblical lump of dried figs. (1 Samuel 30:12) Above the ruins of this Canaanite settlement, the 12th century BCE Philistine city was discovered. It was a large, well planned and fortified city which existed for 200 years and covered the entire surface of the tel. Ekron is one of the five Philistine cities often mentioned in the Bible. The Philistines were of the Sea Peoples who had wandered, at the beginning of the 12th century BCE, from their homeland in southern Greece and the Aegean islands to the shores of the Mediterranean. The Philistines settled along the eastern Mediterranean coast at the time when the Israelites settled http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Ekron.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:52

Ekron: A Philistine City

in the Judean highlands. Politically independent, they preserved their traditions, which were clearly related to those of the Mycenaean culture. Architectural features and many finds indicate this relationship, especially the early Philistine pottery decorated in shades of brown and black, which later developed into the distinctive black and red decorations on white slip. During the 12th-11th centuries BCE Philistine Ekron was a flourishing city enclosed by a sturdy, 3-meterthick brick wall. At the center of the lower city was a royal administration center consisting of well-planned, large structures, such as palaces and temples which yielded a multitude of finds. Of particular interest is a large, well constructed building which covers 240 sq. m. Its walls are broad, designed to support a second story and its wide, elaborate entrance leads to a large hall, partly covered with a roof supported on a row of columns. In the floor of the hall is a circular hearth paved with pebbles, as is typical in Mycenean buildings; other unusual architectural features are paved benches and podiums. Among the finds are three small bronze wheels with eight spokes. Such wheels are known to have served as wheels for portable cultic stands in the Aegean region during this period and it is therefore assumed that this building served cultic functions. The many artifacts of iron found in this building, including a knife with a carved ivory handle, also underscore the biblical statement on the Philistine monopoly of production of iron weaponry. (1 Samuel 13:19) According to the Bible, Ekron was assigned to the Tribe of Judah (Jos. 15:45-46; Judges 1:18) and later, to the Tribe of Dan. (Jos. 19:43) But archeological evidence indicates a flourishing Philistine city during the 12th and 11th centuries BCE. When the Ark of the Covenant fell into Philistine hands, they displayed it in the Temple of Dagon in Ashdod and from there took it to Ekron; (1 Samuel 5:10) and after David defeated Goliath in the Elah Valley on the Philistine border with Judah, the Israelites pursued the Philistines to the gates of Ekron. (1 Samuel 17:52) Ekron was probably destroyed by King David during his campaign against Philistia at the beginning of the 10th century BCE and over the next 300 years, Philistine Ekron was again reduced to the acropolis area of the tel. The prophet Amos prophesied its destruction in the 8th century BCE. (Amos 1:8) In 712 BCE Sargon II, King of Assyria conquered Ekron and immortalized the siege of the city in reliefs on the walls of his palace in Khorsabad.

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Ekron: A Philistine City

During the 7th century BCE, Ekron was once more an important city-state and some of its kings are mentioned in the annals of the Neo-Assyrian kings. The city enjoyed economic prosperity under Assyrian rule, evidence of which is the expansion of the lower city and a new quarter to the north. At its peak it covered an area of some 85 acres and was thus one of the largest cities of biblical times. This city was carefully planned and divided into residential quarters, with a separate quarter for the rulers and the elite, and industrial and trade areas. The economic mainstay was olive oil production and trade. The industrial buildings were built in a dense belt along the inner perimeter of the city walls. A survey has revealed some 115 oil installations, of which only a few have been excavated. The oil factory buildings consist of three rooms and are of a more or less uniform plan: one room for crushing and pressing olives, one for oil separation and storage and a front room facing the street, used for textile production. The factories had a multiple function – four months a year for olive oil production and eight months a year for making textiles. The process of oil production involved first crushing the olives with a cylindrical stone in a large rectangular stone basin. On either side of the crushing basin stood presses, each consisting of a vat with an upper opening and a capacity of tens of liters, cut into a large stone block. Fiber baskets containing the crushed olives were placed, one on top of the other, on wooden slats which covered the vats. Then the baskets of crushed olives were pressed with great force, using a long, thick wooden beam, one end of which was inserted into a niche in the wall, the other hanging free with large, perforated, square stone weights suspended from it with rope. The oil thus produced flowed into the vat and from there was transferred to jars, where it was allowed to separate from the water residue. A sherd from one of the jars bore the inscription "oil" in black ink. It is estimated that during this period Ekron produced at least 500 tons of oil per annum, making it the largest oil production center uncovered so far in the ancient world. The culture of the inhabitants was the local Philistine culture, which had absorbed Judahite and Phoenician influences. In Ekron many stone altars were found near the oil presses. Square in shape with a shallow depression in the upper part, they have protruding corners in the Judahite tradition and are reminiscent of the horned altars of the Bible. At the end of the 7th century BCE the city’s fortunes declined and in 604 BCE, it was conquered and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Ekron.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:34:52

Ekron: A Philistine City

Babylon. As the Babylonian army approached the city, residents hid their valuables and some of these hoards were found under the debris of the destroyed houses. One hoard consists of dozens of pieces of silver jewelry, precious stones, cut pieces of silver and silver ingots which served as money in that period. During the final season of excavations a unique, complete royal inscription was uncovered in the Babylonian destruction layer of the temple complex in the elite zone. This was a very large structure, 57 x 38 m., of clearly Assyrian architectural design, composed of a large courtyard surrounded by rooms. A long hall which probably served as a throne room, as indicated by a raised platform, separated the courtyard from a pillared sanctuary. The inscription, engraved on a rectangular stone measuring 60 x 39 x 26 cm., was found in the cella, the holy of holiest, of the sanctuary. It reads: The temple which he built, ‘kys (Achish, Ikausu) son of Padi son of Ysd, son of Ada, son of Ya’ir, ruler of Ekron, for Ptgyh his lady. May she bless him, and protect him, and prolong his days, and bless his land. The inscription is unique because it contains the name of a biblical city and five of its rulers, two of whom are mentioned as kings in texts other than the Bible. It is the only such inscription found in situ in a securely defined, datable archeological context. The title "ruler of Ekron" is proof of the identification of Tel Mikne with biblical Ekron. The Excavations at Tel Mikne – Ekron were conducted by T. Dothan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and S. Gitin of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Gamla: Jewish City on the Golan

Gamla: Jewish City on the Golan

The city of Gamla on the Golan derived its name from gamal (Hebrew for camel), since it was situated on a hill shaped like a camel's rump. The Hasmonean ruler Alexander Yannaeus founded the city in the first century BCE and it continued to be inhabited by Jews, as attested to by Josephus Flavius (Antiquities of the Jews 13:394). Josephus, a Jew, was Commander of Galilee during the Jewish Revolt against Rome and in 66 CE fortified Gamla as his main stronghold on the Golan. He gives a very detailed topographical description of the city and describes the Roman siege under the command of Vespasian which led to its conquest in 67 CE. The Romans attempted to take the city by means of a siege ramp, but were turned back by the defenders; only on the second attempt did they succeed in penetrating the fortifications and conquering the city. Thousands of inhabitants were slaughtered, while others chose to jump to their deaths from the top of the cliff (Josephus, The Jewish War IV, 1-83). Gamla has not been rebuilt since. Josephus' failure to provide a detailed geographical description of Gamla's location on the Golan made it difficult to locate. The identification was firmly established only in the course of archeological excavations during the 1970s. The remains of the city are located on a rocky basalt ridge surrounded by deep gorges, with a shallow saddle separating it from the rest of the ridge, providing the city with outstanding defensive advantages. The top of the hill is narrow and pointed, creating a very steep slope in the north; the city was built on the more graduated southern slope. The main approach road led to the eastern part of the city, where a massive http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/gamala.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:34:54

Gamla: Jewish City on the Golan

fortification wall was constructed. This wall, built of squared basalt stones, is some 6 m. thick. Several square towers situated along the wall, and a circular tower at the crest of the hill, contributed to the city's defenses. In the low-lying southern part of the wall, two square towers guarded the narrow gateway into the city. In some sections of the wall, rooms of adjacent houses had been filled with stones in order to strengthen the wall. This led researchers to hypothesize that the wall had been hastily constructed, or strengthened, on the eve of the Roman siege. A five meter-wide breach was found at the center of the eastern wall. Scattered around it were dozens of ballista stones and arrowheads; similar finds were also uncovered in destroyed buildings inside the wall - all material evidence of the breaching of the wall and the battle between the Roman attackers and the Jewish defenders of the city. Inside the city, near the wall, an impressive public building was uncovered and identified as the synagogue of Gamla. It is rectangular in shape (25.5 x 17 m.) and oriented northeast to southwest - in the direction of Jerusalem. Along the walls are several rows of stone-built benches. Pillars around the center of the hall supported the roof. In the courtyard, wide steps led down to a mikve (Jewish ritual bath) which served those who came to pray in the synagogue. The houses of the city were built on terraces with stepped alleys between them. Well-constructed residences with large rooms, obviously of the wealthy, were uncovered in the west of the city. The large number of oil presses suggests that olives and the production of oil were the basis of the city's economy. Evidence of fire and destruction uncovered in the buildings are vivid testimony of the drama which unfolded when the Roman Legions captured the city. But the huge mounds of collapsed stones also helped preserve Gamla's remains. Several unique coins minted in Gamla during the Jewish Revolt were found during the excavations. On the obverse of some coins appears the word lige'ulat (for the redemption of) and on the reverse, yerushalayim hakedosha (Holy Jerusalem). The remains of Gamla have been preserved as a national park.

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Gamla: Jewish City on the Golan

Excavated by S. Gutman on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Gezer

Gezer by Hillel Geva

The tel (mound) of the Biblical city of Gezer is located on the western slopes of the Judean Hills, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Built on a hill overlooking the fertile Ayalon Valley, the importance of this city was its strategic location at the intersection of the road from Egypt, along the coastal plain northward, and the road leading to the Judean Hills and Jerusalem. The ancient name of Gezer is preserved in the Arabic name of the tel: Tel el-Jazari. Verification of the site comes from Hebrew inscriptions found engraved on rocks, several hundred meters from the tel. These inscriptions from the 1st century BCE read "boundary of Gezer." The tel covers an area of over 30 acres. Part of this area was excavated between 1902-1909, when archeology was still in its infancy, and caused considerable damage to the site. Since the 1960s, new excavations have been conducted in several areas of the tel. The rich finds discovered in these excavations attest to the importance of the city in antiquity and constitute a unique contribution to the study of past material cultures of the Land of Israel.

Bronze Age Inhabitants of the first settlement established at Tel Gezer, toward the end of the 4th century BCE, lived in large caves cut into the rock. At the beginning of the Early Bronze Age (beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE), there existed an unfortified settlement covering the entire area of the tel. Following its destruction in the middle of the 3rd millennium http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Gezer.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:56

Gezer

BCE, the tel was abandoned for several hundred years. Then, in the Middle Bronze Age (first half of the 2nd century BCE), Gezer became one of the foremost cities in the Land of Israel. The entire tel was surrounded by a massive wall constructed of large blocks of stone 4 m. wide, with strong towers erected at intervals along it. This fortification wall (known as the "inner wall") was protected on the outside by an earthen rampart some 5 m. high, consisting of compacted alternating layers of chalk and earth covered with plaster. The city gate was located near the southwestern corner of the wall and consisted of two towers and three pairs of pilasters on which wooden gates were mounted (as was common in that period). At the center of the northern part of the tel was an unusual cultic area. A row of ten monolithic stone steles - the tallest 3 m. high - stood at its center, oriented north-south. A large, square, stone basin that has been interpreted as serving for libations in cultic ceremonies, was found in front of one of the steles. This is a unique Canaanite temple of mazzeboth (standing stones), both in terms of the number of steles and their size. The researchers suggest that the stones represent the city of Gezer and nine other Canaanite cities; rituals related to a treaty between these cities were probably performed here. The Canaanite city at Gezer was destroyed in a violent conflagration, traces of which were found in all excavation areas of the tel. It is assumed that the destruction was the result of the campaign of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III. The importance of Bronze Age Gezer (2nd millennium BCE), is attested to in the many references to the city in Egyptian sources. In an inscription of Thutmose III, Gezer is mentioned as being conquered from the Canaanites in his campaign in 1468 BCE. In the archives of el-Amarna in Egypt, dating from the 14th century BCE, there are ten letters from the kings of Gezer, assuring loyalty to the Egyptian pharaoh whose vassals they were. The Late Bronze Age (second half of the 2nd millennium BCE) is represented by a wealth of finds, many imported from the Aegean islands, Cyprus and Egypt, from both within the city and in tombs. During this period, a new fortification wall was erected around the city (the "outer wall"), which was some 1,100 m. long. This wall, 4 m.-thick, was constructed outside the earlier wall, on lower ground. This is one of the only fortifications known in the Land of Israel from the Late Bronze Age, providing further proof of the special political status of Gezer in southern

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Gezer

Canaan during the period of Egyptian rule. In the 14th century BCE, a palace building was constructed on the high western part of the tel, its acropolis. It appears to have had two storeys; its walls were built of stone and covered with white plaster and in the courtyard were water cisterns. Remains of another large structure, probably the house of the governor of Gezer, were found in the northern part of the tel. Toward the end of the Bronze Age, the city declined and its population diminished. The victory stele of Merneptah (from the end of the 13th century BCE) for the first time specifically mentions "Israel" as a nation, which was defeated and goes on …Canaan was plundered… and Gezer was captured. Clear evidence of the Egyptian destruction of Gezer was found in the remains of the town.

Iron Age According to the Bible, Joshua and the Israelites defeated the King of Gezer (Joshua 10:33), but the Book of Judges (Judges 1:29) relates that the Tribe of Ephraim did not drive the Canaanite inhabitants from Gezer and that they remained in the city among the Israelites. The strata which represents the 12th-11th centuries BCE of Gezer show several phases of intensive construction. A large, well-constructed building that included many courtyards and rooms on the Acropolis, where grains of wheat were found among the sherds of storage jars and grinding stones, must have been a granary. Next to it was a large plastered surface that served as a threshing floor. After it went out of use, two dwellings were built on top of the granary, each consisting of a courtyard surrounded by rooms. A street ran between the dwellings. Local, as well as Philistine, vessels found there attest to a mixed Canaanite/Philistine population at that time. At the beginning of the 10th century BCE, Gezer was conquered and burned by an Egyptian pharaoh (probably Siamun), who gave it to King Solomon as the dowry of his daughter. Pharaoh King of Egypt had come up and captured Gezer; he destroyed it by fire, killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the town, and gave it as dowry to his daughter, Solomon's wife. (I Kings 9:16) King Solomon (10th century BCE) rebuilt Gezer as a royal Israelite center on the border with Philistia. The impressive series of fortifications consisted of a double wall with gates; at the center of the southern wall was the main gate with three pairs of chambers and a central passage http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Gezer.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:56

Gezer

between them. The gate was expertly constructed of well-trimmed stones, the corners of large ashlars. It was originally two storeys high and roofed. Plastered stone benches were placed along the walls of the chambers and below its floor and the entry threshold was a deep drainage channel that carried rainwater out of the city. An outer gate, consisting of two towers, protected the approach to the main gate; from it extended a solid wall with numerous towers, built on the foundations of the "outer wall" of the previous period. Similar fortifications of this period were found at Hatzor and Megiddo; they cast light on the biblical description of these three administrative centers of Solomon's kingdom: This was the the purpose of the forced labor which Solomon imposed: It was to build the House of the Lord, his own palace, the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and [to fortify] Hatzor, Megiddo and Gezer. (I Kings 9:15) Gezer appears to have been destroyed soon after the death of Solomon and the division of the United Kingdom, during the campaign waged by Shishak King of Egypt against King Jeroboam in 924 BCE. (I Kings 14:25) Researchers attribute the famous Gezer Calendar, found in excavations conducted at the beginning of the 20th century, to the Solomonic period. The calender is a small limestone tablet on which a list of agricultural chores performed during the different seasons, identified by months, is engraved. The Gezer Calendar is regarded as one of the earliest paleoHebrew texts known, and testifies to the use of Hebrew writing as early as the the 10th century BCE. The material culture found at Gezer shows that after the division of the kingdom, Gezer was part of the Kingdom of Israel, on the border with the Kingdom of Judah. During those years, the Solomonic fortifications continued to defend the city, though the gate was rebuilt as a gateway with two pairs of chambers only. It was probably during this period that a water system was constructed, similar to those found at Hatzor and Megiddo. It consisted of a wide shaft, 7 m. deep, with a staircase inside the city, and a tunnel at a 45-degree angle which led down to the water source; its purpose was to guarantee the water supply of the city in time of siege. The conquest of Gezer by the Assyrian ruler Tiglath Pileser in 733 BCE is depicted in a stone relief found in the ruins of the palace of the kings of Assyria at Nimrud in Mesopotamia. In this depiction, a battering ram is seen hitting the wall of the city while some of the town's defenders on the wall surrender to the Assyrian Army. The name of the conquered city, in http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Gezer.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:34:56

Gezer

cuneiform, is Gazaru. Later on it served as the center of the Assyrian administration in the Coastal Plain. Two clay cuneiform tablets were uncovered in the excavation; they are documents from the year 651 BCE and are typical of Assyrian texts dealing with the purchase of land. By the end of the Iron Age, when Gezer was under the control of the Kingdom of Judah, the city was no longer a major center. During the 5th4th centuries BCE, it was part of the Persian province of Yehud. In 142 BCE, Simon the Hasmonean conquered Gezer and built a royal palace there. (I Maccabees 13:43-48) The Iron Age fortifications were restored and semi-circular towers added. Evidence of a Jewish population during this period includes several stepped pools for ritual bathing (mikva'ot). During the reign of King Herod, Gezer lost its importance as a border town and until the end of the Second Temple period (70 CE), it was a private estate, its boundaries marked by inscriptions on rocks, "boundary of Gezer." Tel Gezer was first excavated by R.A.S. Macalister. New excavations were conducted from 1964 to 1973, in 1984 and in 1990. These were first directed by G.E. Wright, later by W.C. Dever and J.D. Seger on behalf of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Golan - A Unique Chalcolithic Culture

Golan - A Unique Chalcolithic Culture by Hillel Geva

Remains of an unknown culture of the Chalcolithic period (4th millennium BCE) have been discovered in the Golan in the past thirty years. This culture has unique characteristics, but also shares features common to the Chalcolithic culture that flourished in other parts of the Land of Israel. So far some 25 sites have been found in the Golan, and several have been excavated. Most of the sites are located in the central Golan, east and northeast of the Sea of Galilee. The Golan is a region of basaltic rock with plentiful rainfall, and its extensive pasturelands have attracted transient herders in all periods of time. During the Chalcolithic period, they settled in small permanent villages and in isolated farmsteads, built on the banks of valleys with small perennial springs. The villages consisted of between 20 to 40 dwellings, built on broad terraces in several rows of chain formation, sharing a common wall. The typical dwelling was rectangular, measuring 15 x 6 m. with the entrance in one of the long walls. The house itself was lower than the surrounding ground and was reached by descending several steps. The walls were particularly thick, built of large, unhewn basalt stones found nearby; the floors were also of stone, with an occasional stone-lined silo built into them. The interior of the house consisted of a main living room and a small room next to it, sometimes sub-divided to serve for storage of food and equipment. This subdivision also facilitated roofing the house with short wooden beams, since trees do not grow tall in the Golan. The roof

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Golan - A Unique Chalcolithic Culture

was supported by a row of wooden columns positioned across the main room. Branches of trees and bundles of reeds were placed over the wooden structure and possibly also covered with skins. Numerous artifacts were found in these Chalcolithic-period houses of the Golan. Pottery was simple and hand made, using the reddish-brown clay with many grits from the volcanic soil of the Golan. Jars, bowls, jugs and spouted large bowls were found, many of them decorated with bands of impressed rope, or with incised or pierced horizontal and diagonal lines, circles or spirals. The assemblage contained a large number of storage jars for food and also spindle whorls of fired clay, which attest to widespread spinning and weaving activities. Vessels made of local basalt were also very common in this culture. Forms include deep flower-pot shaped bowls, shallow bowls, basins and vessels for grinding. Tools were also made of basalt: hammers, hoes and axes. Flint was used for borers, fan-shaped scrapers and sickle blades, which were inserted into handles of bone or wood. The Chalcolithic population in the Golan relied for survival on agriculture and herding. Animal bones found in the excavations attest to domesticated sheep and goats, but also to game animals as food sources. The botanical findings indicate that the inhabitants consumed wheat, peas and lentils, amongst other crops. Olive wood was widely used in construction and olives were, undoubtedly, a food source. The excavators also believe that some of the basalt and pottery vessels were used for the production and storage of olive oil.

Figurines of household gods Characteristic of the Golan Chalcolithic culture are pillar figurines made of basalt, of which some 50 have been found to date. The figurines measure 20-25 cm. in height, are carefully sculpted and variously decorated. Their form is a round pillar with a shallow offering bowl on top, with sculpted human facial features: eyes, ears and protruding nose, apparently symbolizing the breath of life. Several have pronounced horns and even goat beards. These pillar figurines were part of the local household cult; by offering grain, seeds, olives, milk and milk products in the bowls on top of the figurine, the family hoped to satisfy the gods and receive their blessing. These household figurines are of great value for understanding the beliefs and the cult of the Chalcolithic period, as well as its art.

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Golan - A Unique Chalcolithic Culture

Summary It is not clear why the Golan Chalcolithic culture came to an end. Some claim that climatic changes impaired the subsistence farming of the region. The inhabitants abandoned their homes, took the small objects necessary for their daily lives with them, and left behind the heavy vessels which they could not carry. A gap in the settlement of the Golan, which lasted several hundred years, followed. The survey and archeological excavation of the Chalcolithic remains in the Golan were carried out by C. Epstein on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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The Golan: Rogem Hiri

The Golan: Rogem Hiri

The megalithic complex of Rogem Hiri (Rujm al-Hiri in Arabic, meaning “stone heap of the wild cat”) is located in the central Golan, some 16 km. east of the Sea of Galilee, on a desolate plateau of basalt boulders. Since its discovery in a survey of theGolan in the late 1960s, this mysterious site has aroused the curiosity of archeologists. Between 1988 and 1991, archeological excavations and research were conducted in order to establish facts and determine the time of its construction and its function. Rogem Hiri is a monumental construction of local basalt fieldstones of various sizes. It consists of two architectural units: four concentric circles enclosing a central, round cairn. The outer, largest circle is about 500 m. long and 156 m. in diameter. The walls are of varying width, of up to 3.5 m., and have been preserved to a height of 2.5 m., obliterated in some parts by stone collapse. Several radial walls connect the circular walls, creating a labyrinth-like structure which has only two entryways, one facing northeast, the other southeast. At the center of the circles is a cairn, an irregular heap of stones. It is 2025 m. in diameter and preserved to a height of 6 m. The cairn consists of a central mound of stones surrounded by a lower belt, which gives it the appearance of a stepped, truncated cone. A geophysical survey using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) revealed the pile of stones to be hollow. A built burial chamber, with a narrow corridor leading to it, was discovered there. The chamber is round, roughly 2 m. in diameter, built of large stone plates arranged on top of each other, but slightly slanting inwards. It was covered by two massive slabs of basalt, each weighing over 5.5 tons, which created a semi-corbelled dome over the burial chamber. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Rogem.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:34:59

The Golan: Rogem Hiri

Rogem Hiri is one of the most intriguing archeological sites in Israel. A variety of theories concerning the function of this structure, which has no parallel in the Middle East, had been proposed prior to the current research: a religious center; a defensive enclosure; a large burial complex; a center for astronomical observation; and a calendrical device. The structure was even identified as the tomb of Og, King of the Bashan and last of the giants. (Deuteronomy 3:11) Rogem Hiri was also regarded as an astronomical observatory – a sort of Middle Eastern Stonehenge. This theory is supported by the fact that the eastern side, facing the rising sun, was built with much greater care. Also, the only two entryways are located on that side, the northeastern one roughly oriented towards the solstitial sunrise on 21 June. The archeologists who excavated the site offer other possible explanations. According to one view, the concentric circles were built during the Early Bronze Age, in the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, as a cultic and ceremonial center, where nomadic people in the process of becoming sedentary gathered annually; and that much later, during the late Bronze Age (1400 – 1300 BCE) the cairn containing the burial chamber was added (it was robbed of its contents in antiquity and only a few artifacts were found, including gold earrings and bronze arrowheads). Measurements revealed that the cairn is not located in the center of the concentric circles, supporting the view that the stone pile was a later addition. According to another view, the architecture of Rogem Hiri proves that both the concentric circles and the cairn were parts of a single structure. There is no evidence for a cultic structure below the cairn and artifacts typical of known cultic centers of that period were not found. Rogem Hiri was therefore a monumental commemorative tomb – the mausoleum of an Early Bronze Age leader in the Golan; the tomb was cleared of its early burial remains in the Late Bronze Age, and then reused for burial. The size of the site reflects centralized organization and leadership capable of carrying out an engineering project of such proportions (it is estimated that 42,000 tons of stones had to be transported!). The riddle of Rogem Hiri remains unsolved. Those who built it some 5,000 years ago left the stage of history and took with them the secrets of this unusual site. The excavations were directed by Y. Mizrahi and M. Zohar, as part of the Land http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Rogem.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:34:59

The Golan: Rogem Hiri

of Geshur Regional project headed by M. Kochavi, of the Institute of Archeology, Tel Aviv University

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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The Greek Orthodox Church of the Seven Apostles

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Seven Apostles

"Early in the morning, Jesus stood by the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus." (John 21:4) The small, red-domed Greek Orthodox Church of the Seven Apostles (built in 1931) marks the site to which the village of Capernaum was relocated following the earthquake in 746. The church is dedicated to the seven apostles (Simon called Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, "and two other disciples") mentioned in the Gospel of John when Jesus appears again to his disciples "by the Sea of Tiberias". Archeological excavations carried out at four locations on the site between 1978-82 revealed the foundations of residential dwellings with the same black basalt dry-stone walling as in earlier constructions in Capernaum. Of special note are the remnants of a two-meter-wide basalt wall along the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/greekchurch.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:35:01

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Seven Apostles

shoreline. This wall may have been part of a quay along the entire lakefront of the village. A 20-meter-wide break in the wall near the Greek Orthodox church was framed by two stonework jetties extending at right angles into the lake. This would have provided both sheltered anchorage and a slip for hauling boats out of the water. An ancient fishing boat built sometime in the 1st century BCE was discovered in 1986 during an unusually low water level in Lake Kinneret. The 8-meter-long boat had been preserved in the mud of the lake-bed, and was found to contain various implements, including an oil lamp and a cooking pot. Dubbed the "Jesus boat," the craft has been carefully preserved and is now on display at nearby Kibbutz Ginosar.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Haifa University Archeologist Uncovers World’s Oldest Bedding

Haifa University Archeologist Uncovers World’s Oldest Bedding (June 2004)

A team of botanists and archeologists led by a University of Haifa researcher have uncovered prehistoric floor coverings that constitute the oldest evidence of bedding for the sleeping and/or sitting area. According to Dr. Dani Nadel, the Haifa archeologist in charge of the excavation, this is the first time that such bedding, along with a "modernly" organized hut floor, has been found. Nadel and his team have been exploring Ohalo II, a 23,000-year-old fishermen-hunters-gatherers camp on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).The site was uncovered several years ago after the lake had receded drastically because of years of little rainfall in the region. The oval-shaped "mat" that was found is made of grass. Found in the largest of the six brush huts uncovered, the most ancient in the world, the floor covering measures 4.5 meters long. It was located close to the hut wall, around a central hearth. The mat was meticulously crafted from bundles of grass. The charred stems and leaves were covered with a thin, closely pressed layer of clay. According to Nadel, this was apparently intended to preserve the structure and order of the sheaves. The Haifa University-led excavation at the site has also revealed the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/haifabedding.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:35:03

Haifa University Archeologist Uncovers World’s Oldest Bedding

vegetarian diet of the camp inhabitants. Well-preserved seeds and even fruit have been discovered. Almost no other site dating to this period anywhere in the world has produced such finds. According to Nadel, these finds are important for understanding the economic basis and types of seasonal food of humans at the height of the last Ice Age. Large quantities of charred material were found in the huts and near campfires at the site. Some 90,000 seeds and fruit from more than 100 species of trees and plants have been identified so far. Among the grains, wild wheat and barley stand out. These were among the first that humans cultivated at a much later period. The finds, he continued, also testify to the fact that both food and incendiary material were brought to the camp from the Mediterranean groves, the lake shore, and the large salt flats that spread over the region. Ohalo II, Nadel commented, is one of the best preserved sites of the period in the world, presenting one of the most detailed contributions to the reconstruction of everyday life in this period. For background on the Ohalo II excavations, see http://ohalo.haifa.ac.il/

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Hamat Gader: Baths of Medicinal Hot Springs

Hamat Gader: Baths of Medicinal Hot Springs

Hamat Gader (meaning "hot springs of Gadara") is located in the Yarmuk River valley, some 7 km. east of the Sea of Galilee. There are several mineral springs in the valley, with waters of up to 50º C. The ancient name of Hamat Gader is preserved in the Arab name of the mound located near the site, Tel Bani, a corruption of the Greek word meaning "baths". Baths were built at Hamat Gader as early as the 2nd century, but they became popular only during the Byzantine period, in the 5th and 6th centuries. Some of the buildings were damaged by an earthquake in the 7th century and restored by the Umayyad caliph who ruled from Damascus. Eventually, in the 9th century, the baths were abandoned and a thick layer of silt covered the ruins. The curative powers of the Hamat Gader springs, famous since ancient times, were described by the historian Eunapius who visited them in the 4th century: Gadara, a place which has warm baths in Syria, inferior only to those at Baia in Italy, with which no other baths can be compared. Among the visitors to the baths during the Roman-Byzantine period were many Jews, and also Jewish sages who made mention of the baths in the Talmud. A synagogue for their use was built nearby. Dozens of Greek inscriptions, as well as some in Arabic, were found on

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Hamat Gader: Baths of Medicinal Hot Springs

marble and stone plaques incorporated into the floors and walls of the bath buildings. These provide information about the Byzantine rulers and about wealthy individuals who contributed to the cost of construction and renovation work, for which cures were wished on them. Dedicatory inscriptions mention the empress Eudocia (421-460), the Caesar Anastasius (491-518) and the Umayyad caliph Mu’awiyya (661-680). An inscription from the reign of Empress Eudocia, on a 1.81 x 0.71 m. marble slab, bears the empress’ name and praises the springs and baths of Hamat Gader, mentioning 16 buildings, including halls, pools and fountains. Remains of the various structures at Hamat Gader were first studied and partially excavated in 1932. Extensive excavations which exposed a large portion of the baths complex were conducted during several seasons, beginning in 1979. The exposed structures have recently been restored and opened to visitors. Thus today, as in antiquity, one can take the plunge, enjoy the hot springs and take advantage of their curative properties.

The Roman Bath Complex The bath complex was reached from the north, via a 12-m. wide paved street, which connected the various buildings of Hamat Gader. A long, paved passageway, with decorated arches supported by pillars, led to the baths. The building complex covers an area of over 500 sq. m. and offered the visitor a variety of hot water pools and halls, probably with different functions. The buildings are exceptionally well preserved to a height of several meters, the walls are constructed of local basalt stone or welltrimmed limestone. The pools were each in a separate hall; these were connected to one another by passageways which enabled the bathers to pass from one pool to another, gradually adjusting to the differences in water temperature, until reaching the pool closest to the spring, with the hottest water. The pools are of different shapes and sizes, with steps around the edges for comfortable access. Paved walkways around the pools led to halls with niches for individual bathtubs. The pools were filled and drained by a complex system: hot water was brought from the spring through wide pipes of interlocking stone sections and from them, lead pipes carried the water to and from the pools. An unroofed, cool water pool over 50 m. long, was surrounded by 32 rectangular marble fountains, each some 60 cm. high, the sides facing the pool decorated with sculptured human and animal heads; from their

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Hamat Gader: Baths of Medicinal Hot Springs

mouths, water poured into the pool. The sculptures were found broken and defaced, obviously the work of iconoclasts.

The Synagogue The synagogue uncovered on the mound south of the baths was built in the 5th–6th century for use by the many Jews who came to the baths. The synagogue is located in a complex of buildings with paved rooms and courtyards leading to the synagogue. Benches along the walls of a large room next to the synagogue indicate that it was used for study, or that it was a women’s court. The almost square synagogue hall, measuring 13.90 x 13 m., faced south, toward Jerusalem. Three rows of columns divided the hall into a central space surrounded by aisles. The southern wall, facing Jerusalem, had a semi-circular niche (apse), in front of which was an elevated platform (bema) to which steps led. The synagogue was paved with mosaics, mainly in geometric patterns. Three carpets – in geometric and floral designs creating rhombuses containing roses and pomegranates – covered the center of the synagogue hall. The carpet in front of the bema is the most elaborate, with two cypress trees and two lions facing the center and a wreath surrounding a dedicatory inscription which ends as follows: ...whose acts of charity are constant everywhere and who have given here five coins of gold. May the King of the Universe bestow the blessing upon their work. Amen. Amen. Selah. The excavations of the bath complex was conducted by Y. Hirschfeld and G. Solar on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Exploration Society and the Israel Antiquities Authority

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Hatzor

Hatzor

The tel (mound) of the ancient city of Hatzor is the largest and richest archeological site in Israel. It is located in the upper Galilee,14 km. north of the Sea of Galilee. The mound rises only slightly above the fertile plain surrounding it and consists of two parts: a lower tel with an area of some 170 acres and the acropolis to the south with an area of about 30 acres. Many large areas of both mounds were excavated during 1955 and 1958, again in 1968 – 1969; excavation was resumed in 1990, on the upper tel only. Hatzor was the largest Canaanite city of the 2nd millennium BCE. It maintained trade links with Mari on the Tigris River, as mentioned in 18th century BCE documents found there. Fourteenth century BCE documents, from the El Amarna archive in Egypt, also mention Hatzor as an important city in Canaan; they also include the name of its king, Abdi-Tirshi, who had sworn loyalty to the pharaoh of Egypt. He is the only Canaanite ruler referred to as "king" in those documents. The excavators hope that comparable archives will be found in Hatzor. Thus far, only several documents in cuneiform script on fragments of small clay tablets, have been found in the upper city of Hatzor. They are similar to the Mari and El Amarna documents, both in content and date. One of the Hatzor documents mentions Ibni Addu, whose name also appears in a Mari document. In the semitic languages, the name is reminiscent of that of the last Canaanite king of Hatzor, Yavin, known from the Bible. Texts of an administrative and economic nature discovered in Hatzor strengthen the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Hatzor.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:06

Hatzor

assumption that the palace now being excavated on the acropolis will eventually yield a wealth of such documents.

The Canaanite City The fortified Canaanite city of Hatzor (19th – 13th centuries BCE) comprised both the upper tel (acropolis) and the lower tel (lower city). The rectangular shape of the lower mound resulted from the huge earthen rampart which was constructed at the beginning of this period along the western and northern sides of the city. The eastern side, above a steep slope, was protected only by a wall; here two city gates were located with gatehouses consisting of two rectangular towers with a passage between them, narrowed by three pairs of pilasters that supported doors. The fortified area of lower Hatzor contained dwellings and public buildings. A very large Canaanite temple was uncovered in the northern part of the city. It appears that four consecutive temples were built one on top of the other, between the 17th and 13th centuries BCE. The first of these was modest, the last attained its greatest size in the 14th century BCE. It consists of three large rooms built in a row, from south to north. The entrance hall in the south leads to a central hall, behind which was the holy of holies, the northernmost and the largest room of the temple. In its northern wall is a rectangular niche in which the statue of a god may have stood. This Canaanite temple reminds one of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, which, according to the biblical description, also included three rooms in a row. A unique technique was employed in building this Canaanite temple at Hatzor: the inner sides of the walls were lined with orthostats, trimmed rectangular basalt slabs, which strengthened the brick walls. A large basalt orthostat, with a lion depicted on it in relief, was found; it is probably one of a pair that stood on either side of the entrance. In the ruins of this temple, which was destroyed by fire, a variety of statues, cult vessels, libation tables and a deep basalt bowl decorated with running-spiral motif were found. Of special interest is a square basalt altar for burning incense. On one of its sides, a circle with a cross in the center – the divine symbol of the Canaanite storm god – is carved in low relief. In the western part of the lower city, a small 14th century BCE temple built into the earthen rampart was uncovered. At the back of the building stood a row of basalt steles, one with a pair of hands raised in prayer and above them a crescent and disk, presumed to represent divine attributes. Also

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found here – of basalt – were statuettes of a seated figure and of a lion. The most important discovery of recent years was the Canaanite palace on the acropolis. It is the largest and most elaborate of this period so far discovered in Israel. At the center of a large courtyard in front of the palace stood a raised platform, probably for cultic use. Two enormous stone bases, which once supported massive columns, were found on the facade of the entrance hall, from which several steps led up to a 12 x 12 m. room – assumed to have been the throne room. The walls of the palace were up to 3 m. thick, built of bricks reinforced with cedar-wood beams, their bases lined with basalt orthostats. Since the palace and the building style bear similarities to those found in countries to the north of Israel, it is assumed that during this period Hatzor had cultural and economic ties with these lands. The palace was destroyed with the rest of Hatzor, apparently in a conflagration that fired the bricks into very hard material. The remains of the Hatzor palace were covered with ash and debris which contained fragments of Egyptian sculptures, ivory artifacts, jewelry, bronze figurines and statues and more. One stone statue, cracked by fire and broken into many pieces, was over one meter high, thus making it the largest statue from the Bronze Age so far found in Israel. Northeast of the palace was a Canaanite temple with clear north-Syrian architectural influences. It consists of a single large hall with a courtyard in front of it. This was probably the private, royal temple. The uncovered fortifications, elaborate palace, temples and buildings, together with the written documents and other finds, indicate Hatzor’s importance among the Canaanite city-states of the 2nd millenium BCE. It illuminates the biblical passage which describes Hatzor as "the head of all those kingdoms." (Joshua 11:10) This flourishing city was totally destroyed by fire at the end of the Late Bronze Age (around 1200 BCE). The conflagration is mentioned in the Bible, emphasizing the complete destruction of Hatzor during the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites: But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hatzor only; that did Joshua burn. (Joshua 11:13)

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For some 200 years after the destruction of the Canaanite city, only an insignificant Israelite settlement existed here. A royal city was founded on the upper tel in the 10th century BCE, during King Solomon’s reign, as recounted in the Bible: And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hatzor, Megiddo and Gezer. (1 Kings 9:15) It is noteworthy that fortification systems and administration buildings identical to those found at Hatzor have also been found at Megiddo and Gezer. A casemate wall surrounded only the western half of the upper tel. The eastern gate consisted of three pairs of chambers and two outward projecting towers. At the western edge of the city stood a mighty fortress, probably serving also as the residence of the governor appointed by the king to rule over the northern part of the kingdom. In the 9th century BCE, during the rule of King Ahab, Israelite Hatzor became a great, royal city, grandly planned. The eastern part of the upper tel was surrounded by a solid wall and the early casemate wall in the west was filled in with stone, resulting in a massive, strong and uniform wall surrounding the entire city. A new citadel measuring 25 x 21 m. with twometer thick walls was erected in the western part of the city. It had two long halls with rooms on three sides and a staircase of long, trimmed stones which led to the second story. The main, western entrance to the citadel consisted of two stone pilasters bearing carved proto-aeolic capitals which once supported the doorway’s lintel. Such capitals, with two large, carved volutes, are among the hallmarks of Israelite royal architecture. Within the city and near the gate, a variety of administrative and private structures were built. A storehouse structure with two rows of monolithic stone pillars that supported a roof is noteworthy among these. This building was dismantled in the renewed excavations and reconstructed nearby so as to allow the excavation to continue to lower levels. A water system of amazing size and engineering complexity was constructed at Hatzor during the reign of King Ahab. It is located in the south of the city, opposite the natural springs in the valley at the base of the mound. The main component of the water system is a broad, rectangular shaft, cut into the rock to a depth of 30 m. A 3 m. wide winding staircase along the walls, leads to the bottom. The lowest flight of stairs continues in a southwesterly direction into a sloping, 4 m. high and 25 m. long tunnel, which leads to a water chamber cut into the aquifer. This unique water http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Hatzor.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:06

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system ensured the continued water supply to the city even in time of siege, hidden from the enemy’s view. In the 8th century BCE Israelite Hatzor lost its importance and declined. It was conquered by Tiglat Pileser III of Assyria in 732 BCE. (2 Kings 15:29) Traces of the destruction have been found all over the city. Hatzor never regained its past glory; only a small settlement continued to exist there, until that too was abandoned in the Hellenistic period. Excavations of Hatzor between 1955-58 and in 1968 were conducted by Y. Yadin on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The excavations carried out since 1990 (the Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin), are directed by A. Ben-Tor on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and M.T. Rubiato of the Complutense University of Madrid in cooperation with the Israel Exploration Society and the Rothschild Foundation

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Herodian

Herodian: King Herod's Palace - Fortress

Some 12 km. south of Jerusalem, on a hill shaped like a truncated cone that rises 758 m. above sea level, stood Herodium, the palace-fortress built by King Herod. It had a breathtaking view, overlooking the Judean Desert and the mountains of Moab to the east, and the Judean Hills to the west. Herodium is described in great detail by the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius: This fortress, which is some sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem, is naturally strong and very suitable for such a structure, for reasonably nearby is a hill, raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and rounded off in the shape of a breast. At intervals it has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed of two hundred steps of hewn stone. Within it are costly royal apartments made for security and for ornament at the same time. At the base of the hill there are pleasure grounds built in such a way as to be worth seeing, among other things because of the way in which water, which is lacking in that place, is brought in from a distance and at great expense. The surrounding plain was built up as a city second to none, with the hill serving as an acropolis for the other dwellings. (War I, 31, 10; Antiquities XIV, 323-325) According to Josephus, Herodium was built on the spot where Herod won a victory over his Hasmonean and Parthian enemies in 40 BCE. (Antiquities XIV, 352-360) To commemorate the event, the king built a

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fortress and a palace there, which he named after himself. He also built, in the plain below the hill, an administrative center for the region, which had not been previously settled. Here, at Herodium, he also had a royal tomb built for himself; Josephus describes (War I, 33, 8; Antiquities XVII, 196199) the king's funeral procession and burial at Herodium. Herodium, together with Machaerus (in today's Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) and Masada near the Dead Sea, were the last three fortresses held by Jewish fighters after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Herodium was conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 71 CE. (War VII, 6, 1) The site was identified in the 19th century; its name in Arabic, Jabal Fureidis, is probably a corruption of the ancient name, Herodis (mentioned in the Bar Kochba letters). Remains of the palace-fortress on the hilltop have been excavated by several expeditions since the early 1960s. Excavation of the buildings at the foot of the hill has been conducted intermittently since 1972 to the present time. Herodium was built in two separate areas, each with a distinct function: a circular fortress, including an elaborate palace, surrounded by a wall with towers on top of the hill; and Lower Herodium, in the plain to the north, with a group of royal buildings around a large pool.

The Palace-Fortress The combination of fortress and palace is a uniquely Herodian innovation, which he repeated on several other sites, including Masada. At Herodium, a circular palace-fortress was constructed on top of a hill, which rises 60 m. above its surroundings. The fortifications consist of two concentric walls with a 2.5 m. space between them. the outer walls measure 62 m. in diameter. The fortification was originally about 30 m. high, with seven stories. Two of these stories were underground foundations, strengthened with barrel-vaulted ceilings, and the superstructure of five stories was considerably higher than the palace courtyard. Wooden ceilings separated the stories, which were used for storage and as quarters for soldiers and servants. Huge towers projected from the walls on all four sides. The eastern tower - the largest - was a massive, round tower on a solid stone base and measured 18 m. in diameter. It had several upper stories with elaborate rooms, probably for the use of the royal entourage. This eastern tower rose above the entire fortress, its roof commanding a panoramic view; it also served as a hiding place in times of danger.

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Herodian

The other three towers were semi-circular, 16 m. in diameter, and their upper stories served as storage spaces and living areas. After construction of the fortification around the hill, an earth rampart of considerable height was laid against the outer foundations of the fortification, artificially raising the hill and giving it a conical shape. The entry-gate to the fortress, in the northeast, was reached via a straight, steep staircase within a corridor built into the earthen rampart. Cisterns beneath the fortress, filled with rainwater which was channeled from above, assured its water supply. In addition, three very large cisterns were cut into the slope outside the fortress (near the entrance to the staircase) and rainwater was channeled into them from the hillside. Water was drawn from these cisterns by servants, who carried it to the cistern on the top of the hill, which was probably always kept full. Herod's private palace, of modest dimensions, stood within the fortification. It was splendidly appointed, with floors of colored tiles, mosaics and wall paintings and included every imaginable feature for comfort. The eastern part of the palace was a garden, in a 41 x 18 m. atrium surrounded on three sides by porticos, its columns adorned with Corinthian capitals. The western portion of the palace had two stories. Its ground floor included: ●

● ●

a hall (triclinium), with a roof supported by four columns (stone benches were added on three of its sides by Jewish fighters during the Jewish Revolt against Rome [66-70 CE], who converted it into a synagogue); a cruciform courtyard with rooms at its corners; a small bathhouse (the preserved domed roof in one of its rooms is the earliest example of a dome found to date in Israel).

Lower Herodium On the plain below the fortress to the north, Lower Herodium covered an area of some 38 acres. It was well planned, the buildings and gardens placed on a north-south axis. The buildings were constructed around a large pool (70 x 46 m., and 3 m. deep), which was filled by water from the aqueduct especially built to carry water from the springs at Artas near Solomon's pools to the west. The pool was plastered to prevent seepage and used as the main reservoir of Herodium, as well as for swimming. The foundations of a round building (15 m. in diameter) were found in the center of the pool. It once had a roof supported by a row of columns and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Herodian1.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:08

Herodian

was probably a pavilion for relaxation and entertaining. The pool was surrounded by extensive, well-tended gardens. Six metre-wide porticos, consisting of columns adorned with Ionic capitals surrounded the gardens on three sides, to a length of about 250 m. Halls, each measuring 110 x 10 m., were built along the eastern and the western sides of the pool. The eastern hall was built on a 13 m.-wide and extremely high terrace wall. The octagonal room at the center of the western hall had walls decorated with pilasters and frescos. It is assumed that this room served as a reception hall, or perhaps even as the king's throne room when he resided at Herodium. The pool complex was surrounded by buildings of various functions. In the north was a large structure that included storage areas and servants quarters. In the northwest a warehouse was uncovered and fragments of dozens of ceramic storage jars were found among the debris. In the southwest a large bathhouse was excavated, which probably served the royal entourage and the king's guests. It comprised a number of rooms and pools, a caldarium (hot room) heated by the hypocaust system (the floor was raised on supports, allowing hot air to circulate below the floor, thus heating the room). The bathhouse walls were decorated in painted square patterns and in imitation marble. The floors were paved with colored mosaics in geometric and floral patterns, as well as with pomegranates, grapevines and grape clusters.

The Monumental Building The building dubbed "the monumental building" by the excavators, stood south of the pool, at the western edge of a level, man-made area measuring 350 x 30 m. In this building there is an elaborate square hall, open on the side facing the level area; it measures 12 x 9 m. and is preserved to a height of 7 m. The particularly thick walls of the hall are built of well-cut ashlars, with niches between pilasters. Architectural elements, with decorations characteristic of elaborate burial monuments in Jerusalem, and the ritual bath found here, have prompted the suggestion that the building was part of King Herod's mausoleum. The room described could have served as a triclinium for ceremonies in memory of the king. The manmade level area in front of the building perhaps served as as a plaza for the royal funeral procession described by Josephus. (War I, 33, 9) To the disappointment of the excavators the tomb itself has not yet been found. It may well be hidden nearby, deep in the slopes of the fortress of Herodium. As the excavation progressed, extensive restoration was carried out on the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Herodian1.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:08

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structures of Herodium. It is possible today to walk on a comfortable path to the top of the fortress, to climb its walls and to enjoy, as in the past, the view of the surrounding region. One may also descend to the 300 m.-long tunnels, cisterns and rock-cut spaces under the hill. These underground passages were cut as hiding places by Jewish fighters of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion (132-135) when Herodium was once more besieged by the Roman army. And the large pool at Lower Herodium is, as in times of old, once more surrounded by (restored) porticos.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod

Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod by Hillel Geva

The oasis of Jericho, some 25 km. east of Jerusalem, lies in the Jordan Valley, about 390 m. below sea level and has warm and pleasant winters. It was, therefore, chosen as the site for the winter palaces of the kings of the Hasmonean dynasty, and of King Herod, in the Second Temple period. In this plain with fertile soil and an abundance of water from nearby springs, rare plants producing aromatic essences and spices, were grown. Most famous among these was the opobalsamum plant, whose oil was among the costliest substances in the ancient world, and very profitable to the growers. The palaces were situated below the high cliffs of the Judean Desert at the entrance to Wadi Qelt - west of the Jericho oasis - about a day's horseback riding from Jerusalem. They were planned for rest and recreation, but also as administrative centers; the proximity to Jerusalem made it possible for the monarch to efficiently deal with affairs of state during his winter sojourn there. Regular water supply, via aqueduct from the springs in Wadi Qelt (wadi = dry riverbed), was ensured. The water filled reservoirs and swimming pools and was used to irrigate the palace gardens as well as tens of acres of agricultural land belonging to the crown, where dates and costly aromatic plants and spices were grown. The palaces and the road from Jericho to Jerusalem were protected by the fortresses of Doq (Qarantal) and Cypros, built atop the cliffs at the entrance to Wadi Qelt. The remains of the palaces, including the two artificial mounds known to local inhabitants as Tulul Abu al-Alaiq, cover an extensive area on both sides of Wadi Qelt. Excavations conducted over a period of 15 years http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/jericho.html (1 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:11

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beginning in 1973, revealed a series of royal palaces from the Second Temple period, built successively one on top of the other, or adjacent to earlier structures. The excavations uncovered the complex plans of the palaces, as well as evidence of the opulent life at court.

The Hasmonean Palace Herod's palace at Jericho was preceded by successive palaces built by the kings of the Hasmonean dynasty, from the end of the 2nd to the middle of the 1st century BCE. The Hasmonean palaces, on the northern bank of Wadi Qelt, consisted of an open courtyard surrounded by rooms, clearly reflecting Hellenistic architectural influence. Noteworthy are elegant rooms for entertaining (triclinia) with colonnaded façades and bathrooms with bathtubs. These were decorated with colored frescos in imitation of marble and in geometric patterns of Hellenistic style; they are among the earliest discovered in the Land of Israel. There were "twin swimming pools", and one of the palaces was built atop a 15 m.-high artificial mound, surrounded by a wall with a glacis, towers and a broad, ca. 7 m.deep moat. Towards the end of Hasmonean rule, the palace complex was renovated and a more sophisticated bathhouse was added. It had several rooms, some decorated with frescos, bathtubs and mikva'ot (pools for Jewish ritual bathing). The main room in the bathhouse was paved with mosaic, in red, black and white geometric patterns, one of the earliest mosaic floors so far uncovered. A building, believed to be a synagogue, was found several years ago in the northeastern part of the Hasmonean palace complex, but the connection to the Hasmonean palace remains unclear, because Herod's palace was built on top of it (see Archeological Sites in Israel, No. 3, page 4). A political assassination, recorded by Josephus Flavius (Antiquities 16:5051), occurred in Jericho's Hasmonean palace. Fearful that his kingdom would be taken from him by the Romans and given to a young priest of the Hasmonean dynasty, Herod ordered his servants to drown the boy in the swimming pool of the palace in Jericho.

Herod's Palaces Well acquainted with the advantages of the Jericho oasis, Herod also built a palace there. It was much larger and more magnificent than that of his Hasmonean predecessors. Built in three stages, it covered extensive areas http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/jericho.html (2 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:11

Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod

on both sides of Wadi Qelt, with a bridge connecting the two parts. During this time, Roman imperial style in architecture was first applied in the Land of Israel and parts of the palace complex were obviously built by Roman artisans, working alongside local architects and builders.

The First Palace Herod's First Palace was situated on the southern bank of Wadi Qelt, in the region which Herod leased from Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, who had received it as a gift from Marcus Antonius in 36 BCE. The Hasmonean palace north of the wadi remained in use during this period. This First Palace was rectangular (87 x 46 m.), with distinctly Roman architectural features. It was fortified and had a single entrance. At its center was a large peristyle courtyard surrounded by rooms on three sides; to the west of the courtyard was a large guest hall with rows of columns along three sides, open to the courtyard on the fourth. An elaborate bathhouse in Roman style, with six rooms, was one of the innovations introduced by Herod. At the center was the caldarium (hot room), heated by a hypocaust (the floor raised on rows of ceramic supports, creating a space under the floor through which hot air was forced, heating the floor and thus, the entire room). The floors of the bathing rooms were paved with mosaics in colored, geometric patterns.

The Second Palace Herod's Second Palace was built north of Wadi Qelt, east of the Hasmonean Palace and on parts of it, after the destruction of the first palace by earthquake in 31 BCE. The twin swimming pools of the Hasmonean palace were joined into a single large one (32 x 18 m.) and surrounded by gardens. Trees and shrubs were planted in clay pots set into the ground; many of them were found in their original position. The palace had an unobstructed view of the surrounding scenery; it was divided into two wings, the northern built on a terrace 5 m. higher than the southern, connected by a broad staircase. At the center of the northern wing was a courtyard (34 x 28 m.), surrounded by a row of columns on all four sides. Atypically, the center of the courtyard was raised above the level of the surrounding porticos; the purpose of this architectural innovation eludes us. Located at the center of a row of rooms south of the courtyard was a grand triclinium, decorated with frescos. East and north of the courtyard were rows of rooms, probably guest rooms. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/jericho.html (3 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:11

Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod

The southern wing of the palace included installations for the use and pleasure of the court and its guests: a pool surrounded by a row of columns and a courtyard; a large hall opening towards the pool via a row of column on its façade; and a splendid bathhouse, its rooms paved with mosaics, its walls decorated with frescos. The hypocaust in the caldarium was built in an unusual way - its upper floor was supported by rows of small stone columns - instead of the usual fired bricks.

The Third Palace Herod's Third Palace, the largest, was constructed on both sides of Wadi Qelt and covered an area of over seven acres, with a bridge over the wadi, connecting its two wings. Some of the walls of this palace were made of a core of concrete, with stone facings termed opus reticulatum (small rectangular or square stones set into the concrete). Since this construction technique, though widely used in Rome, was extremely rare elsewhere, it is the opinion of the excavator, that King Herod had hired a team of Roman artisans. The Northern Wing of the palace included halls, rooms, peristyle courtyards and a large bathhouse. The main entrance was in the south, opposite the bridge; its walls were decorated with frescos and its ceiling with stucco. At the center of the building was a courtyard surrounded by columns on three sides. The wider columns of the eastern colonnade were constructed of small stones and mortar and bore Corinthian capitals; the lower parts of the columns were plastered and painted red and black, while the upper portions were faced with grooved plaster. North of the courtyard was the main bathhouse of the Third Palace. Entirely constructed of Roman concrete with stone facings in the opus reticulatum technique, it consisted of five rooms arranged in a row, with vaulted roofs. The main room served as an entrance hall where bathers undressed and relaxed. To the right one could walk to the caldarium (hot room), which was heated by hypocaust. This room was rectangular, its walls thicker than usual and in each of them was a niche. On the left side of the caldarium was a circular, domed room (8 m. in diameter), probably a sudatorium (sweat room), heated by charcoal braziers. From the main room of the bathhouse, one could walk to a stepped pool, the frigidarium (cold room). West of the bathhouse was a courtyard surrounded on three sides by columns with ionic capitals. The walls of the courtyard were decorated http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/jericho.html (4 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:11

Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod

with frescos, among the most lavish found in Herod's palaces. At the center of the courtyard was a garden, in which seven rows of 12 clay flowerpots were found. At the northern side of the courtyard, which had no columns, was a semi-circular plaza with walls built of Roman concrete. An entrance in the center of the rounded wall led to a rectangular, splendidly decorated room. Its walls were covered with frescos, its ceiling with stucco and the floor was of plaster, grooved to simulate tiles. This was probably the throne room, where the king received his visitors. The largest of the halls of the palace was located on its western side. It measured 29 x 19 m., and was undoubtedly used for large receptions; rows of columns surrounded it on three sides, the columns in the northern corner in the shape of a heart. The floor paving was of local and imported stone tiles, laid in opus sectile fashion (alternating colors and shapes placed so as to create geometric designs). The walls of the hall were covered with frescos and stucco. The southern wing of the palace included the "sunken garden," a large pool and the southern artificial mound. The "sunken garden" was a garden located within a rectangular structure measuring 145 x 40 m. The back wall of the structure, with a series of niches, was built into the hillside. At the center of the wall was a large, circular, stepped niche; it is assumed that a variety of plants were grown in the many flowerpots found there. An artificial mound with a staircase ascending to its top was found south of the sunken garden. The mound was created by building a large 20.5 x 19.5 m. frame of high walls in a grid, creating nine hollow spaces, which were then filled with earth and stones. Earth was heaped outside the frame, to create an artificial hill with a steep slope. This formed a stable platform for the superstructure, which consisted of a single, circular reception hall, 15 m. in diameter. The walls, with semi-circular niches, were decorated with colored frescos. This hall, which was raised above its surroundings, afforded a wonderful view of the Jericho oasis. In the 1st century CE, until its destruction during the Jewish Rebellion against Rome (66 -70), the palace remained in use by members of King Herod's family. The palace complex of Jericho was excavated by E. Netzer on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/jericho.html (5 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:11

Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod

and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Katzrin

Katzrin

The ruins of the ancient Jewish village of Katzrin are located in the central Golan, some 13 km. northeast of the Sea of Galilee. The village was built on a gentle slope surrounded by fertile fields. A number of perennial springs in the wadi (dry riverbed) north of the village provided some water, but the main source was the spring located in the village, from which water was channeled to a small collecting pool cut into the basalt bedrock. Over the hundreds of years of the village's existence the level of its streets rose, and retaining walls had to be constructed around the spring, to allow continued drawing of water. The location of Katzrin, mentioned in ancient Jewish sources, was identified at the end of the 19th century. The synagogue was discovered in 1967 during a survey, in which an ancient gravestone bearing the Hebrew inscription Rabbi Abun, may he rest in honor was also found. The synagogue was excavated between 1971 and 1984 and, beginning in 1983, houses in the village east of the synagogue were also excavated. Minor Iron Age remains were found, on which a settlement was built in the Hellenistic period (2nd century BCE). During the Roman-Byzantine period (4th-7th centuries), the village grew and became prosperous. Thereafter it gradually declined; it was entirely abandoned during the Mamluk period (13-14th century). The remains of ancient Katzrin have been restored after excavation: the columns of the synagogue are upright once more and the houses near the synagogue are two stories high and roofed. Samples of ancient household utensils and agricultural implements are displayed in the houses.

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Katzrin

The Village Remains of the village of Katzrin were exposed east of the synagogue. The buildings have particularly thick walls of trimmed basalt stones and the entrances are made of long, very carefully dressed stones. The buildings of this ancient village were well adapted to the climate of the region: they maintained a comfortable temperature both in the cold winters and in the hot summers. Also, the extensive use of stone was an architectural solution to the absence of suitable wood in the Golan. The excavations enable us to trace the architectural development of the village from the Roman period (3rd-4th centuries) to the Early Arab period (8th century). At first the basic dwelling unit consisted of one large room, which opened onto the street with a second story on top of it. Behind the house was a large yard, sometimes with an additional room that served as a storeroom or kitchen. Over the years, additional units were added to this basic family unit. Thus a dense cluster of dwellings, devoid of planning, came into being. Each insula (cluster of buildings surrounded by streets) consisted of several dwelling units and a large number of rooms and yards arranged around a central courtyard. Narrow, winding lanes separated the buildings from the synagogue. Ceramic storage jars and cooking pots, and crushing and grinding tools made of local basalt were found inside the houses. Surprising was the discovery of many hoards of hundreds of coins each, hidden under the floors and thresholds and in the walls of the houses. One such hoard contained 9,000 coins dating from the 4th century. High inflation in this period had caused considerable devaluation of the coins; it has been suggested, therefore, that the money was not hoarded for future use, but concealed to bring good fortune, a widespread belief among villagers at the time.

The Synagogue A synagogue was first built in the 4th-5th centuries - a modest, square building with six columns. In the 6th century, a large and elegant synagogue was built on its ruins; during the years of its use, it was renovated several times, and additions were built. Constructed entirely of basalt, it is notable for the wealth of its decorations. The synagogue was partially preserved to a height of 3 m. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Katzrin.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:35:13

Katzrin

Oriented north-south towards Jerusalem, the synagogue is trapezoidal in shape (about 17.6 x 15.3 m.) with minor differences in the length of the walls. The exterior walls were carefully built of square, well-trimmed stones, while the interior walls were of inferior construction. The main entrance, in the center of the northern wall, has a doorway decorated with carved stepped-profile and egg-and-dart designs. On the lintel is a carved wreath tied in a Hercules knot, flanked by two pomegranates and two amphorae. A secondary entrance in the western wall had a lintel with carved rhomboids and triangles and a rosette in the center. Two rows of four columns each divided the synagogue into a nave and two aisles. The capitals of the columns are Ionic in inspiration, but contain the variant details characteristic of Golan synagogue architecture. The synagogue was two stories high (apparently without an inner balcony on the second floor), and had rows of windows at the top of the walls. The roof consisted of wooden beams covered by ceramic tiles; many fragments of these were found in the ruins. In the southern wall, which is oriented towards Jerusalem, a pair of ashlar-built steps led to a raised, solid stone platform (bama). It is assumed that the wooden structure of the Torah ark stood on it. Beneath this bama was an elongated stone-paved chamber, narrow and low, which probably served as a geniza (storage space for sacred texts no longer in use). The walls of the prayer hall were plastered and painted white, and some of the lower portions decorated with red geometric motifs. Stone benches were built along the walls, in the form of a double step. In the 6th century, the synagogue was paved with colored mosaics, of which only small portions have been preserved. The mosaic flooring was covered with hard, white plaster during repairs carried out in the 7th century. The Katzrin synagogue was in use even after the Muslim conquest; it was apparently destroyed during the earthquake in 749, which also destroyed most of the village. A small mosque was built in the northern part of the synagogue in the Mamluk period, but it was in use for only a short time. The village was then abandoned and covered by debris until its discovery. The synagogue was excavated by D. Urman, M. Ben-Ari and S. Barlev, and later by Z. Maoz, R. Hachlili and A. Killebrew, while the village was excavated by A. Killebrew. The excavations were carried out on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities.

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Katzrin

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Kiryat Sefer

Kiryat Sefer by Hillel Geva

Kiryat Sefer is located some 25 km. east of Tel Aviv, on a hill near the ancient road from Caesarea via Beit Horon to Jerusalem. The remains of a small Jewish village were found at the site. Several dwellings were arranged around a broad square, at the center of which stood a public building - the synagogue. The buildings were well constructed and separated by narrow alleys; their walls made of large, trimmed stones, and the entrances of well-dressed ashlars. Each dwelling consisted of several rooms around an inner courtyard. In them were various installations, such as pits for storing water, cut into the rock to considerable depth, olive presses with stone basins for crushing and heavy stone weights for pressing. The mikva'ot (Jewish ritual baths) in the houses were cut into the rock and plastered, with stairs leading to the bottom. Their presence attests to the resident's attention to Jewish ritual purity regulations. One structure, with several particularly large rooms, probably served as a warehouse for the products of the inhabitants.

The Synagogue A small building with a unique plan stood in the village square. It was a square structure (9.6 m. wide on each side), the façade with the main entrance facing north. This wall was particularly well built of large ashlars with margins and smoothed boss, unlike the other walls, which were constructed of large, trimmed stones like the village houses. The entrance http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Kiryat_Sefer.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:14

Kiryat Sefer

in the center of the façade had a lintel with a rosette in relief, within a triangular frame. The floor of the synagogue was carefully laid of large, trimmed stones. Around three of the building's inner walls (all except the entrance wall) were high, wide benches constructed of stone. Four pillars made of stone sections and topped with Dorian-style capitals stood in the center. At each side of the entrance, and in the back wall of the building, protruded two pairs of square stone pilasters with capitals. The columns and the pilasters created two rows along the length of the building that supported arches, originally surmounted by a wooden structure that in turn supported the roofing. Fragments of red-painted plaster are evidence that the walls were painted. In the western wall of the building was an entrance to a small, plastered room in which ritual objects of the synagogue were probably kept.

Summary The presence of synagogues in the Second Temple period is known from Jewish sources, as well as from the New Testament. The remains of a few such synagogues have been uncovered, including the well-known one in the fortress of Masada on the Dead Sea and the one of Gamala, on the Golan. During this period, the Temple still stood in Jerusalem and served as the center of Jewish cult. Synagogues existed in Jewish settlements, serving the needs of the community as places for Torah study and prayer. Their existence did not compete with, or challenge, the centrality and importance of the Temple. The synagogue discovered at Kiryat Sefer demonstrates that synagogues were built even in small villages on the fringes of the area inhabited by Jews. The synagogue of Kiryat Sefer was a modest structure, built according to the economic means and the requirements of the village community. The building has architectural features similar to those of other synagogues of this period, thereby aiding researchers in identifying it as a synagogue. The fact that it is not oriented towards Jerusalem only demonstrates that during this period regulations governing synagogue orientation (prayer facing Jerusalem) had not yet been consolidated. Finds from the houses of the village, such as pottery and coins, show that the village had been founded in the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd centuries BCE), but the buildings in the village and the synagogue date from the 1st century BCE.

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Kiryat Sefer

The village was established by Jews who had left the hills of Benjamin and Ephraim (the Samaria region). They developed vineyards and olive groves, sold their products on local markets, and even exported abroad. Export of olive oil and wine brought them economic prosperity, as reflected in several hoards of coins, including many gold coins, which were found in the ruins of the village. Though few in number, the inhabitants were able to construct spacious houses and to fund the building of a synagogue, in which to gather for religious and social functions. The village of Kiryat Sefer was abandoned during the suppression of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-70 CE). It was briefly resettled, but was destroyed during the Roman suppression of the Bar-Kokhba Rebellion (132-135 CE). The remains of the village and the synagogue have been preserved within the area of the modern settlement of Kiryat Sefer. After reconstruction, the site will be opened to the public. The site was excavated during the late 1990s by Y. Magen on behalf of the Staff Officer for Archeology in Judea and Samaria. Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Kursi: Christian Monastery on the Shore of the Sea of Galilee

Kursi: Christian Monastery on the Shore of the Sea of Galilee The Byzantine monastery of Kursi is situated east of the Sea of Galilee at the mouth of a wadi (riverbed) descending from the Golan Heights and creating a small, fertile valley along the shoreline. The remains of the ancient monastery came to light accidentally, during construction of a new road, and they were excavated in the years 1971-1974. The site is now open to the public as a national park. The location of Kursi, its architectural features and the testimony of early travelers identify it as the site where, according to tradition, Jesus healed two men possessed by demons. (Matthew 8: 28-33) To commemorate the miracle, a monastery was built there, probably at the beginning of the 6th century. The monastery is surrounded by a protective stone wall which creates a rectangular enclave measuring 140 x 120 m. The entrance, protected by a watchtower, faces west, towards the Sea of Galilee. In antiquity, a paved road led from the monastery to a small harbor which served Christian pilgrims arriving in boats. A wide, paved path led from the entrance of the monastery complex to a large plaza in front of the church at the center of the complex. The 45 x 25 m. rectangular church consists of a courtyard surrounded by pillars; these formed an atrium through which one entered the prayer hall itself. In its interior, two rows of eight stone columns supported Corinthian capitals of marble with crosses carved in relief. The columns divided the prayer hall into a nave and two side aisles. The whole floor of the church was paved with colored tesserae. Preserved mainly in the aisles, square frames are decorated with floral and faunal motifs, such as grapes, figs, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/kursi.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:35:16

Kursi: Christian Monastery on the Shore of the Sea of Galilee

pomegranates, fish, birds and water fowl. The faunal representations were almost obliterated, probably by members of the iconoclastic movement which became active in the early Arab period (7th century). At the eastern end of the church was a raised apse reached by two steps with two square rooms beside it. One was used as a baptistery, attested to by a Greek inscription, dedicating it to the Abbot Stephanos in the time of the Emperor Mauricius (end of the 6th century). Lateral wings were added to the sides of the church; the northern wing was an oil press, probably providing sacred oil for the pilgrims. To the south of the church there was a chapel with mosaic paving, beneath which was a crypt which contained the tombs of monks who had served in the monastery. Within the grounds of the monastery, living quarters for the monks and a hostel for housing pilgrims, as well as household utilities, were uncovered. Upon the slope overlooking the monastery to the south were the remains of a small chapel, incorporating a cave with a mosaic floor. In front of it stood a rock, some seven meters high, surrounded by revetment walls to prevent its collapse. This presumably marks the place where, according to tradition, the miracle recounted in the New Testament occurred. The monastery was damaged by an earthquake in the middle of the 8th century and abandoned.

The site was excavated by D. Urman and V. Tzaferis on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Lachish: Royal City of the Kingdom of Judah

Lachish: Royal City of the Kingdom of Judah Tel Lachish, the mound of the ancient city of Lachish, is located in the lowlands of the Judean Hills, some 40 km. southeast of Jerusalem. The abundance of water sources and the fertile valleys of the area favored the existence of a prosperous city over a considerable period of time. The mound of the city was first excavated during the 1930s. Systematic and in-depth excavations of large areas of the mound were again conducted between 1973 and 1987.

The Canaanite City A large, fortified Canaanite city was established at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE on a hillock dominating the surrounding area. It was fortified by a wall and a glacis, a ramp-like structure of compressed earth with a hard, smooth surface of lime plaster. The fortification was completed by a fosse (moat) at the foot of the glacis. A large palace of numerous rooms and a courtyard, probably the residence of the Canaanite King of Lachish, stood on the acropolis - the highest part of the city. It could not be completely exposed, as a later Israelite palace was built above it. From letters sent by the kings of Lachish to their overlords, the pharaohs of Egypt (the 14th century BCE el-Amarna correspondence) it may be deducted that Lachish was an important urban center and the seat of the Egyptian governor of southern Canaan. Two temples are known from this period at Lachish. Finds from the Fosse Temple, at the western foot of the mound, include cult vessels, offering http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/lachish.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:18

Lachish: Royal City of the Kingdom of Judah

bowls and imported items of pottery, faience and ivory, all evidence of wealth. The temple on the acropolis, with Egyptian architectural elements, included an entrance chamber, a main hall (16 x 13 m.) and a raised holy of holies. Two octagonal stone columns supported the wooden ceiling, while the walls were decorated with painted plaster. Canaanite Lachish was totally destroyed by fire at the end of the 12th century BCE. According to one theory, the destruction was wrought by the Philistines of the nearby Coastal Plain; according to another, more widely accepted theory, it was wrought by the Israelites, whose capture and destruction of the city is recorded in the Bible. (Joshua 10:31,32)

The Israelite City Rebuilt as a fortress-city of the Kingdom of Judah, Lachish gained in importance after the split of the kingdom into Judah and Israel. As the largest city on the western border of the Kingdom of Judah facing the Philistines of the Coastal Plain, Lachish was fortified with a double line of massive mud-brick walls on stone foundations. The main city wall on top of the mound was 6 m. wide, with a sloping glacis supported by a revetment wall along the middle of the slope. The city gate, in the southwestern wall, is one of the largest and most strongly fortified gates known of this period. It consists of an outer gate in a huge tower built of large stones which protrudes from the line of defenses. The gatehouse, on top of the mound, consists of three pairs of chambers with wooden doors on hinges. A palace-fortress was built on the acropolis and probably served as the residence of the governor appointed by the King of Judah. During the 8th century BCE a new wing was added to the palace, enlarging it to 76 x 36 m. Next to the palace was a courtyard with stables and storerooms; the whole complex was surrounded by a wall with a gatehouse. The city of Lachish was destroyed by the Assyrian army during Sennacherib's campaign against the Kingdom of Judah in 701 BCE. The destruction was total; the buildings were burned to the ground and the inhabitants exiled. The Assyrian campaign, during the reign of King Hezekiah, and the encampment of the Assyrian army at Lachish are described in detail in the Bible. (2 Kings 18:14-17; 2 Chronicles 32:9) The conquest of Lachish is depicted in monumental stone reliefs found at Sennacherib's palace at Ninveh, providing a rare contemporary "photograph" of the battle and conquest. These relief-images of the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/lachish.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:18

Lachish: Royal City of the Kingdom of Judah

Assyrian attack have been confirmed by archeological evidence at the site: the attack on Lachish was launched from the southwest; the attackers built a siege ramp against the slope of the mound, which according to calculation contained some 15,000 tons of stones and earth! The ramp was covered with plaster to allow the Assyrian battering ram to be moved up to the city wall and breach it. The city's defenders constructed a counter-ramp inside the city, thus raising the city wall, which forced the Assyrians to raise the height of their ramp in order to overcome the city's new defenses. The fierceness of the battle is attested to by the remains of weapons, scales of armor, hundreds of slingstones and arrowheads. During the reign of King Josiah (639-609 BCE), the city of Lachish was rebuilt and fortified. This much poorer city was captured and destroyed by the Babylonian army in 587/6 BCE. (Jeremiah 34:7) In one of the rooms, which opened onto a courtyard outside the city gatehouse, a group of ostraca were found during the excavations in the 1930s. Now known as the Lachish Letters, they constitute an important corpus of Hebrew documents from the First Temple period. Written in paleo-Hebrew script on pottery sherds, they are messages sent by the garrison commander of a small fortress to his commanding officer in Lachish.

The excavations were conducted by D. Ussishkin of Tel Aviv University.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea

Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea

Masada (Hebrew for fortress), is situated atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a place of gaunt and majestic beauty. On the east the rock falls in a sheer drop of about 450 meters to the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth, some 400 m. below sea level) and in the west it stands about 100 meters above the surrounding terrain. The natural approaches to the cliff top are very difficult. The only written source about Masada is Josephus Flavius’ The Jewish War. Born Joseph ben Matityahu of a priestly family, he was a young leader at the outbreak of the Great Jewish Rebellion against Rome (66 CE) when he was appointed governor of Galilee. He managed to survive the suicide pact of the last defenders of Jodfat and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Masada1.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:22

Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea

surrendered to Vespasian (who shortly thereafter was proclaimed emperor) – events he described in detail. Calling himself Josephus Flavius, he became a Roman citizen and a successful historian. Moral judgment aside, his accounts have been proved largely accurate. According to Josephus Flavius, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Herod, an Idumean, had been made King of Judea by his Roman overlords and was hated by his Jewish subjects. Herod, the master builder, “furnished this fortress as a refuge for himself.” It included a casemate wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater, barracks, palaces and an armory. Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-of-war. The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders – almost one thousand men, women and children – led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir, decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives, rather than be taken alive. “And so met (the Romans) with the multitude of the slain, but could take no pleasure in the fact, though it were done to their enemies. Nor could they do other than wonder at the courage of their resolution, and at the immovable contempt of death which so great a number of them had shown, when they went through with such an action as that was.” The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself. The heroic story of Masada and its dramatic end attracted many explorers to the Judean desert in attempts to locate the remains of the fortress. The site was identified in 1842, but intensive excavations took place only in 1963-65, with the help of hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers from Israel and from many foreign countries, eager to participate in this exciting archeological venture. To them and to Israelis, Masada symbolizes the determination of the Jewish people to be free in its own land.

THE HERODIAN FORTRESS The rhomboid, flat plateau of Masada measures 600 x 300 m. The casemate wall (two parallel walls with partitions dividing the space between them into rooms), is 1400 m. long and 4 m. wide. It was built along the edge of the plateau, above the steep cliffs, and it had many towers. Three narrow, winding paths led from below to fortified gates. The http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Masada1.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:22

Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea

water supply was guaranteed by a network of large, rock-hewn cisterns on the northwestern side of the hill. They filled during the winter with rainwater flowing in streams from the mountain on this side. Cisterns on the summit supplied the immediate needs of the residents of Masada and could be relied upon in time of siege. To maintain interior coolness in the hot and dry climate of Masada, the many buildings of various sizes and functions had thick walls constructed of layers of hard dolomite stone, covered with plaster. The higher northern side of Masada was densely built up with structures serving as the administrative center of the fortress and included storehouses, a large bathhouse and comfortable living quarters for officials and their families.

1. Small bathhouse 2. Herod's palace-villa 3. Storerooms 4. Apartment building 5. Snake-path gate 6. Casemate-wall 7. Zealots' living quarters

8. Underground cistern 9. Southern bastion 10. western palace 11. Throne room 12. West gate 13. Synagogue 14. Large bathhouse

King Herod’s residential palace. On the northern edge of the steep cliff, with a splendid view, stood the elegant, intimate, private palace-villa of the king. It was separated from the fortress by a wall, affording total privacy and security. This northern palace consists of three terraces, luxuriously built, with a narrow, rock-cut staircase connecting them. On the upper terrace, several rooms served as living quarters; in front of them is a semi-circular balcony with two concentric rows of columns. The rooms were paved with black and white mosaics in geometric patterns. The two lower terraces were intended for entertainment and relaxation. The middle terrace had two concentric walls with columns, covered by a roof; this created a portico around a central courtyard. The lowest, square terrace has an open central courtyard, surrounded by porticos. Its columns were covered with fluted plaster and supported Corinthian capitals. The lower parts of the walls were covered in frescos of multicolored geometrical patterns or painted in imitation of cut marble. On this terrace was also a small private bathhouse. Here, under a thick layer of debris, were found the remains of three skeletons, of a man, a woman and a child. The beautifully braided hair of the woman was preserved, and her sandals were found intact next to her; also hundreds of

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Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea

small, bronze scales of the man’s armor, probably booty taken from the Romans. The storehouse complex. This consisted of two rows of long halls opening onto a central corridor. The floor of the storerooms was covered with thick plaster and the roofing consisted of wooden beams covered with hard plaster. Here, large numbers of broken storage jars which once contained large quantities of oil, wine, grains and other foodstuffs were found. The large bathhouse. Elaborately built, it probably served the guests and senior officials of Masada. It consisted of a large courtyard surrounded by porticos and several rooms, all with mosaic or tiled floors and some with frescoed walls. The largest of the rooms was the hot room (caldarium). Its suspended floor was supported by rows of low pillars, making it possible to blow hot air from the furnace outside, under the floor and through clay pipes along the walls, to heat the room to the desired temperature. The western palace. This is the largest building on Masada, covering over 4,000 square meters (one acre). Located along the center of the western casemate wall, near the main gate towards Judea and Jerusalem, it served as the main administration center of the fortress, as well as the king’s ceremonial palace. It consists of four wings: an elaborate royal apartment, a service and workshop section, storerooms and an administrative unit. In the royal apartment, many rooms were built around a central courtyard. On its southern side was a large room with two Ionic columns supporting the roof over the wide opening into the courtyard. Its walls were decorated with molded panels of white stucco. On the eastern side were several rooms with splendid colored mosaic floors. One of these, the largest room, has a particularly decorative mosaic floor with floral and geometric patterns within several concentric square bands. This room may have been King Herod’s throne room, the seat of authority when he was in residence at Masada.

MASADA, STRONGHOLD OF THE ZEALOTS The synagogue, part of the Herodian construction, was a hall measuring 12.5 x 10.5 m., incorporated into the northwestern section of the casemate wall and oriented towards Jerusalem. This synagogue also served the Jews who lived in Masada during the Revolt. They built four tiers of plastered benches along the walls, as well as columns to support its ceiling. This synagogue is considered to be the best example of the early synagogues, those predating the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE. An ostracon bearing the inscription me'aser kohen (tithe for the priest) was found in the synagogue. Also, fragments of two scrolls, parts of Deuteronomy and Ezekiel 37 (including the vision of the "dry bones"), were found hidden in pits dug under the floor of a small room built inside the synagogue. Artifacts. Among the many small finds – most from the occupation period of the zealots – were pottery and stone vessels, weapons (mainly arrowheads), remnants of textiles and of foodstuffs preserved in the dry climate of this area; also hundreds of pottery sherds, some with Hebrew lettering, coins and shekels.

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Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea

Of special interest among the postherds of amphora used for the importation of wine from Rome (inscribed with the name C. Sentius Saturninus, consul for the year 19 BCE), is one bearing the inscription: To Herod King of the Jews Several hoards of bronze coins and dozens of silver shekels and half-shekels had been hidden by the zealots; the shekalim were found in superb condition and represent all the years of the Revolt, from year one to the very rare year 5 (70 CE), when the Temple was destroyed. In the area in front of the northern palace, eleven small ostraca were uncovered, each bearing a single name. One reads "ben Yai’r" and could be short for Eleazar ben Ya’ir, the commander of the fortress. It has been suggested that the other ten names are those of the men chosen by lot to kill the others and then themselves, as recounted by Josephus. Evidence of a great conflagration were found everywhere. The fire was pobably set by the last of the zealots before they committed suicide. Josephus Flavius writes that everything was burnt except the stores – to let the Romans know that it was not hunger that led the defenders to suicide. Two thousand years have passed since the fall of Masada. The climate of the region and its remoteness have helped to preserve its remains to an extraordinary degree. Today, a modern cable car carries the many visitors to the top of the rock with its breathtaking view across the Dead Sea, where the last Jewish stronghold against Rome stood. The excavations were directed by Y. Yadin on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Exploration Society and the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums (today, the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry. Masada photo courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. All rights reserved to Itamar Greenberg and to the Ministry of Tourism.

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Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City

Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City

Tel (mound) Megiddo, known as Tel-el-Mutesellim (Hill of the Ruler) has been identified as one of the most important cities of biblical times. Located on a hill overlooking the fertile Jezreel Valley, Megiddo was of great strategic importance, as it commanded the eastern approaches of Nahal Iron (nahal, a dry river bed), part of the international highway which led from Egypt, along the coastal plain to the Jezreel Valley, and thence to Damascus and Mesopotamia (the highway became known later as Via Maris, Way of the Sea). Numerous battles fought for control of the city are recorded in ancient sources; in the New Testament (Revelations 16:16), Armageddon (believed by some to be a corruption of Har Megiddo - the hill of Megiddo) is named as the site of the "Battle of the End of Days". One of the largest city mounds in Israel (covering an area of about 15 acres) and rich in archeological finds, Tel Megiddo is an important site for the study of the material culture of biblical times. A total of 20 cities were built at Megiddo, one above the other, over the course of 5,000 years of continuous occupation; from the time of the first settlement at the end of the 6th millennium BCE to its abandonment in the 5th century BCE. Several expeditions have excavated at Megiddo since the beginning of the 20th century. The most important excavations were conducted by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago between the years 1925 and 1939. All four of the uppermost cities of the tel, dating to the first half of the 1st millennium BCE, were excavated by this expedition. Several sections excavated to bedrock exposed the remains of the earliest city. The finds corroborate written evidence concerning the importance of Megiddo, first as a royal Canaanite city, then as an Egyptian stronghold http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Megiddo.html (1 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:24

Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City

and administrative center, later as a "chariot city" of the kings of Israel, and finally as the controlling city of Assyrian and Persian provinces. Excavations at Megiddo were renewed in 1994, with the aim of clarifying the tel's stratigraphy and chronology and of obtaining further information about architectural and cultural remains at the site.

A Royal Canaanite City and an Egyptian Administrative Center A village had been established on the hill of Megiddo at the end of the 6th millennium BCE, but the first fortified urban settlement, remains of which were uncovered on bedrock in the eastern part of the tel, dates from the beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE. Within its walls was an elongated rectangular temple, with an altar opposite its entrance; it had a low ceiling, supported by wooden columns placed on stone bases. The renewed excavations have exposed several long, parallel stone walls, each 4 m. thick, the lanes between them filled with the bones of sacrificed animals. Over the next 2000 years, a series of Canaanite temples were built, one on top of the other, on the site of this ancient temple. At the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, a circular bama (altar) of fieldstones, 8.5 m. in diameter and 1.5 m high, was built. Seven steps led to its top, upon which sacrifices were offered. This is an excellent example of the cultic bamot (altars) frequently mentioned in the Bible. (e.g., I Samuel 9:12-15) Then, at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, a complex of three identical temples was added at the back of the bama, forming an impressive Canaanite cultic precinct. Each of these megarontype temples consisted of a rectangular room with a bama at its back and an open courtyard at its façade, where a pair of round stone bases indicate pillars. Towards the end of the 2nd millennium BCE, a new Canaanite temple was built on the ruins of its predecessors; it had especially thick walls and included a small cultic chamber with two towers protecting its façade. From the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, Megiddo was an important military center. The city was surrounded by mighty stone fortifications, strengthened by earthen ramparts with glacis (a sloped hard and smooth coating). The area within the walls was carefully planned and divided into several clearly defined quarters: the royal quarters containing the palaces; the administrative quarter; and the residential quarters. This http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Megiddo.html (2 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:24

Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City

plan did not significantly change until the 12th century BCE. Toward the middle of the 2nd millennium, a new gate of unusually large dimensions, built of large ashlars on trimmed basalt foundations, was built in the city's northern wall. It included two pairs of chambers with a broad passage between them, providing convenient access to chariots. Next to the gate in the eastern wall stood the palace of the Canaanite kings of Megiddo. This was a very large and splendid palace, its rooms built around a courtyard. Gold jewelry and ivories found in the palace treasury provide evidence of the wealth of the kings of Megiddo and their political and commercial links with neighboring lands and cultures. Megiddo is mentioned many times in Egyptian royal inscriptions from the 15th to the 13th centuries BCE. They attest to the city's importance as the center of Egyptian administration in Canaan and as a logistical base on the road north. Inscriptions in the temple of the god Amon at Karnak (in Upper Egypt) describe the first military campaign of Thutmose III in Canaan, at the beginning of the 15th century BCE. According to this description, the Egyptian army crossed the hills of Manasseh and then advanced via Nahal Iron to the Jezreel Valley. The united army of the Canaanite kings, surprised by this military move, was soundly defeated; Megiddo was conquered after a seven-month siege. His majesty [Thutmose III] speaks to his generals: That wretched enemy [the Canaanites]... has come and has entered into Megiddo. He is there at this moment. He has gathered to him the princes of every foreign country that had been loyal to Egypt, as well as those as far as Naharin and Mitanni [in today's Syria]... Then his majesty issued forth at the head of his army... He had not met a single enemy. Their southern wing was in Ta'anach, while their northern wing was on the south side of the Qina Valley... Thereupon his majesty [Thutmose] prevailed over them [the Canaanites] at the head of his army. Then they saw his majesty prevailing over them, and they fled headlong to Megiddo with faces of fear. They abandoned their horses and their chariots of gold and silver... Six letters found in the archives of the Egyptian kings at el-Amarna, dating

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Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City

to the 14th century BCE, were sent by the king of Megiddo to his overlords, the kings of Egypt. In these letters, Biridiya, king of Megiddo, describes the growing threat to his city at the hands of Labayu (king of Shechem) and pleads for help: To the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, say: Thus Biridiya, the faithful servant of the king. At the two feet of the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, seven and seven times I fall. Let the king know that ever since the archers returned [to Egypt], Labayu has carried on hostilities against me, and we are not able to pluck the wool, and we are not able to go outside the gate in the presence of Labayu, since he learned that thou hast not given archers; and now his face is set to take Megiddo, but let the king protect the city, lest Labayu seize it. Verily, there is no other purpose in Labayu. He seeks to destroy Megiddo. With the decline of Egyptian control in the 12th and 11th centuries BCE, struggles for power took place among the Canaanites, Philistines and Israelites which left their mark upon the remains at Megiddo. The city was finally conquered by King David, who established it as an important regional center of his kingdom.

The monarchic "Chariot City" Megiddo reached its peak under King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. He rebuilt it as a royal city, administering the northern part of the kingdom. The building of Jerusalem, the capital, and of Hatzor, Megiddo and Gezer, as part of centralized urban planning, is recounted in the Bible: And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the Lord, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hatzor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. (I Kings 9:15) Architectural features characteristic of the royal centers of the monarchic period have been found in all three cities. In the Megiddo excavations, such elements were encountered in the palaces, buildings, fortifications, administrative buildings, storehouses, stables and the water system. During the reign of Solomon, Megiddo was surrounded by a sturdy casemate wall (two parallel walls with partitions between them, creating rooms). The casemates served as barracks for soldiers and for storage of http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Megiddo.html (4 of 6)2/11/2004 13:35:24

Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City

equipment. A new city gate was constructed on the remains of the Canaanite gate in the northern part of wall. It included three sets of chambers with a passage between them; for additional security, towers and an outer gate were added outside this gate. Within the city, large palaces were built, and next to them identically planned administrative buildings: a series of rooms around an open central courtyard. These were very well built, with extensive use of large ashlars, the thick walls supporting a second story. Atop the doorposts were ProtoAeolic stone capitals, with stylized volutes. Megiddo was destroyed in the military campaign of Pharaoh Shishak in 926 BCE, and restored during the reign of Ahab, king of Israel (ca. 874 852 BCE) who made it a royal "chariot city." The new city's walls were 3.5 m. thick, constructed with offsets and insets and incorporating the Solomonic city gate. Noteworthy among the structures from the period of Ahab are several large, identical buildings, covering large areas of the city. Some archeologists believe they were storehouses, barracks or marketplaces, but most researchers regard them as stables. Based on the biblical account, the stables were first dated to the reign of Solomon, but new evidence has established their date as early 9th century BCE, in the reign of King Ahab. The southern stable complex is divided into several compartments, each subdivided into three long, parallel halls: the outer halls for stalls, the corridors between them for use by the stable hands. The ceiling of the stables was supported by large, square stone pillars. Massive stone troughs stood in the stables, as well as perforated stones for tying the horses. In the middle of a large courtyard, surrounded by a stone wall, was a watering pool. It is estimated that Megiddo's stables could have accommodated 450 horses; the adjacent structures undoubtedly housed dozens of battle chariots - an impressive quantity in terms of the period. To safeguard the city's water supply in times of siege, a subterranean water system was hewn in the rock in the western part of the city, which made it possible to reach the spring at the foot of the hill outside the walls without being seen by the enemy. This project required considerable engineering ingenuity and an enormous amount of hard labor. The water system consists of a square, 25 m.-deep vertical shaft and an 80 m.-long horizontal tunnel. In order to hide the source of water from the enemy and to protect the users of the water system, a particularly thick wall, camouflaged by a covering of earth, was constructed at the entrance to the cave from which

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Megiddo - The Solomonic Chariot City

the spring emanates, blocking access from the outside. Megiddo continued to serve as the seat of the royal governor during the reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel. This is attested to by a seal, found in excavations at the beginning of the 20th century, bearing the inscription "to Shema, servant of Jeroboam." During the rebellion of Jehu, Ahaziah, king of Judah, fled to Megiddo and died there of his wounds. (II Kings 9: 27) Megiddo was apparently conquered and destroyed in 732 BCE, during the campaign of Tiglath Pilesser III, king of Assyria, against the Kingdom of Israel. (II Kings 15: 29)

The Last Days of Megiddo The Assyrians made Megiddo the royal city of their province in the north of the conquered kingdom of Israel and rebuilt it in their finest architectural tradition. An orthogonal grid of streets divided the city into quarters. In the south of the city, a round, subterranean stone-lined silo, 11 m. in diameter, with two narrow flights of stairs along its sides, was found. At the end of the 7th century, apparently during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah, a rectangular fortress was constructed on top of the eastern side of the tel, but it remained in use only until Josiah's fall in 609 BCE, when it was destroyed. In his days Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. (II Kings 23: 29) From then on, Megiddo fell into decline; it was finally abandoned during the Persian rule, in the 5th century BCE.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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The Monastery of Martyrius

The Monastery of Martyrius When the new town of Ma'ale Adumim was built in the Judean hills east of Jerusalem, (1982-85) the remains of the large Byzantine Monastery of Martyrius were uncovered on a hill in the center of the new town. The hill overlooks the road climbing from Jericho to Jerusalem, as it did in antiquity. The Monastery of Martyrius was one of the many monasteries, housing hundreds of monks, which were founded in the Judean Desert during Byzantine times. According to a contemporary source, Martyrius was born in Cappadocia (in present-day Turkey) and arrived in the year 457 at the Monastery of Euthymius east of Jerusalem. He left that crowded monastery and lived as a hermit in a nearby cave. Later he served as a priest of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and as Patriarch of Jerusalem (478-486). During this period he probably built and supported the monastery bearing his name. The compound of the Monastery of Martyrius is almost a square, with an area of 2.5 acres, completely surrounded by walls which have been preserved to a height of two meters. The gate to the monastery was located in its eastern wall; sockets with iron bases (for wooden doors) have been preserved. A round rollingstone, 2.5 m. in diameter, was found in place inside the gate, probably for additional protection. Numerous rock-cut cisterns and a network of canals, collecting and channeling rainwater into the cisterns, assured the water supply in this semi-arid area. Built around a large central courtyard, the monastery complex included many rooms, a church, several chapels, a refectory, a kitchen, a http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/monastery.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:27

The Monastery of Martyrius

storeroom, a bathhouse, an enclosure with stalls and mangers for animals and, outside the wall, a hostel. The main church, 25.5 x 6.6 m. in size, was paved in colorful mosaics in round and hexagonal frames with depictions of animals; unfortunately, very little has survived. A Greek inscription mentions the abbots Genesius and Iohannes, in whose memory the church was built. On the northern side of the monastery complex, a cave, reached by several steps, contained a number of skeletons. A mosaic inscription in Greek mentions the names of three priests who were buried there. It is assumed that the monk Martyrius dwelt in this cave before being appointed to the church hierarchy in Jerusalem. The large (31 x 25 m.) refectory (dining room), is surrounded by stonebuilt benches and divided by two rows of columns which supported the second story. The floor is covered with magnificent, colorful mosaics of geometrical designs, preserved intact. A Greek inscription reads: "During the time of our holy father Genesius, presbyter [church elder] and archimandrite [abbot], this work too was done for his salvation and for the salvation of his brethren in Christ. This work was completed in the month of March, in the first year of the indiction." The kitchen (21 x 6 m.), next to the refectory, was also paved with mosaics and contained marble tables. Hundreds of ceramic vessels, metalware, grinding utensils, cooking pots and many pottery wine cups were found here. The bathhouse had a hot room, the floor of which rested on low brick columns, and a pool adjacent to it. Outside the monastery complex, near the main gate, a hostel (43 x 20 m.) with a chapel, bedrooms and stables catered to the needs of the many pilgrims who came to visit. Such hostels are mentioned in contemporary sources as an important factor in the monasticism of the Byzantine period. The monastery was damaged during the Persian invasion of 614 and was abandoned after the Arab conquest in the mid-7th century.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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The Monastery of Martyrius

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Nahal Refaiim: Caananite Bronze Age Villages near Jerusalem

Nahal Refaiim: Caananite Bronze Age Villages near Jerusalem

The site is situated on the southern slopes of a hill - Giv'at Massua - near the bank of Nahal Refa'im (Heb., Refa'im Valley), some 6 km. southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem, on the ancient road which led from the Coastal Plain to the Judean Hills and Jerusalem. Excavations at the site in the Refa'im Valley have been conducted sporadically since 1980, but most of the remains were uncovered between 1987 and 1990, when the Biblical Zoo was established there. Two large villages, one on top of the other and from different periods of the Bronze Age, were excavated. The name of the Bronze Age villages was probably Manahat. The name is mentioned in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible completed in Alexandria, Egypt in the 3rd century BCE), in the list of towns on the northern border of the Tribe of Judah. (Joshua 15: 59) An echo of the ancient name was preserved in the nearby Arab village of Malha and the modern Jerusalem neighborhood of Manhat. A short distance from the site is a spring, the main source of water for the villages. Fertile land, forests and grazing areas in the region made continued settlement possible. Of the village houses, scattered over an area of about 12 acres, some 30 have been excavated. They were built on natural stone terraces on the gently sloping hillside, with open areas between them. During the Israelite period, a new settlement was established on top of the

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Nahal Refaiim: Caananite Bronze Age Villages near Jerusalem

hill above the older village. Its inhabitants built stone terraces on the slopes of the hill for planting and many of the cleared fieldstones - not used for building of terraces - were placed in high piles on the remains of the earlier buildings. The houses of the Bronze Age village were thus well preserved, together with utensils used by its inhabitants.

The Early Village A village was founded in the Refa'im Valley at the end of the Early Bronze Age (2200-2000 BCE). The houses consisted of a single story with a varying number of different-sized rooms, built on exposed rock surfaces, sometimes next to low rock cliffs. Their walls were constructed of fired bricks on low stone foundations and the earthen floors were leveled with stone surfaces. The flat roofs were constructed of wooden beams and plaster, supported by wooden posts with stone bases recessed in the floors. In some of the buildings, cultic stelae, flat standing stones, were placed against the inner walls of rooms. In the eastern part of the village, remains of several building complexes, each extending over an area of several hundred square meters, were exposed. Each complex consisted of a number of dwelling units with several rooms. Some houses had common walls and some were built around a courtyard, probably for livestock and for domestic activities. It is assumed that these complexes were the result of several building phases: first, a single unit was built by the father of the family; then units for the extended family were added. These clusters of buildings are indicative of settlement over a period of several generations. The livelihood of the villagers was based on agriculture and herding. Agricultural crops included grains, lentils, olives and grapes, planted on small plots of land around the village and in the valley. Livestock consisted primarily of sheep and goats, herded for grazing on the surrounding hills, and hunting of wild animals supplemented the villagers' diet. Pottery produced and used in the village was of hand-made coarse clay, well fired. Huwwar, the main material used by the village potters, was readily found in the limestone rock. This was mixed with sand mined from narrow, deep caves in the hard limestone within the village limits. The vessels produced were mainly large, barrel-shaped storage jars, cooking pots, cups and bowls.

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Nahal Refaiim: Caananite Bronze Age Villages near Jerusalem

The exposure of the Early Bronze Age village in the Refa'im Valley is of great importance for the study of settlement patterns at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE. Until now, researchers had believed that large cities, such as Arad and Megiddo, were destroyed by nomadic tribes at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, and that for the next several hundred years, no permanent settlements existed in Canaan. With the exposure of the remains of other villages from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, similar to that in the Refa'im Valley, it is now evident that a village culture replaced the destroyed urban one and that these rural settlements were established by the population that had abandoned the fortified cities.

The Later Village During the Middle Bronze Age (1750-1550 BCE), a new Canaanite village was established in the Refa'im Valley with most of its houses built on those of the earlier village. The walls were built to their full height of fieldstones, laid lengthwise in layers, with a mortar of clay, straw and gravel between them. These sturdy walls have been preserved to a height of 2 m. Most floors were made of rock surfaces leveled with earth where needed; some floors were made of laid stone slabs. Dwellings were once more built individually, according to family size and topography. Stone stairs connected rooms of differing levels and provided access to the upper stories. Daily life in the Canaanite village in the Refa'im Valley is illustrated by the finds in the abandoned houses. These include numerous grinding stones for processing food, ovens for cooking and even a stone silo for grain storage. The grain cultivated here was harvested with wooden sickles into which flint blades had been inserted. Axes, knives, awls and bronze needles were also widely used in the village. The Temple. In the southwestern part of the village and separate from its houses, was a rectangular (10 x 6 m.) building with thick, carefully constructed walls, which appears to have been the village temple. The entrance faced east and two short pilaster-walls extended from its façade. The internal space of the temple, which was paved with stone slabs, was divided by a partition into a narrow entrance room and a square hall. The temple stood in the center of a courtyard (temenos) surrounded by a stone fence. A small square room abutting the temple served for the storage of small clay votive vessels and a variety of cultic objects, which were found in the excavations.

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Nahal Refaiim: Caananite Bronze Age Villages near Jerusalem

The Canaanite village was situated within the area of control of the citystate of Jerusalem, the main city in this hill country, called "Shalem" in the Bible (Genesis 33:18) and "Urusalim" in royal Egyptian sources of that period. During the 18th century BCE, Jerusalem was fortified with an impressive wall, remains of which are currently being uncovered. The excavated village in the Refa'im Valley was part of a network of such rural settlements in the valley; it was a time of peace and the villagers became prosperous, selling their agricultural surplus in the markets of Jerusalem. The remains of the houses of this Canaanite village have been preserved within the Biblical Zoo of Jerusalem.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Nebi Samwil

Nebi Samwil

Nebi Samwil is located on a hill (908 m. above sea level), some 5 km. north of Jerusalem. The hill provides a good view of Jerusalem and controls the roads leading to the city from the north: the road from the Coastal Plain in the west and that from Samaria to the north of Jerusalem. The large mosque with a high, round minaret on the top of the hill is clearly visible from Jerusalem. It is revered by both Jews and Muslims because the cave beneath it is the traditional burial place of the prophet Samuel. Tradition associates Nebi Samwil with biblical Ramah, the burial place of the prophet Samuel. (I Samuel 25:1; 28:3) But modern studies have http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Nebisamwil.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:32

Nebi Samwil

identified Nebi Samwil with biblical Mitzpa [see Tell en-Nabeh for a different view on where Mizpa was most likely located], a town of cultic importance in the territory of the Tribe of Benjamin. (Joshua 18:26 and Judges 21:1-8) Gedaliah son of Ahikam, who was appointed governor of Judah by the Babylonians, lived in Mitzpa and was assassinated there. (Jeremiah 41:1-10) After the return from exile, the people of Mitzpa participated in repairing the walls of Jerusalem and in the building of the Second Temple. (Nehemiah 3:7, 19) The cultic importance of Mitzpa to the Jews during the Hellenistic period is evident from a reference in I Maccabees 3:46: They assembled at Mitzpa, opposite Jerusalem, for in former times Israel had a place of worship at Mitzpa. The proximity of Mitzpa to Jerusalem and the discovery, in the archeological excavations, of finds from the First Temple period and from Hasmonean times, lend validity to the identification of the site as the biblical Mitzpa. Comprehensive excavations were conducted at Nebi Samwil from 1992 to 1999. On the southeastern slopes of the site, previously unknown remains from the beginning of settlement there were found; they had not been damaged by the intensive construction activity of the Crusaders. The Crusader fortress with its fortifications and the building complex outside its walls were uncovered.

The Early Village The first settlement, covering an estimated area of four acres, was founded at the end of the First Temple period (8th-7th centuries BCE) and continued to exist during the Persian period (6th-4th centuries BCE), as evidenced by pottery sherds and seals on handles of storage jars. Some of these are inscribed yhd, the name of the province of Judah under Persian rule. The settlement was based on agriculture: grain, grown in the broad fields in the plain to the north; olives, figs and grapes grown on the terraced hillsides. A spring on the northern slope of the hill provided water for the settlement. During the Hellenistic period (2nd-1st centuries BCE) a large village was established under royal patronage, to protect the northern approaches to Jerusalem. The excavations uncovered the remains of several dwellings built on the hillside. The walls of the houses, some preserved to an impressive height of 4.5 m., indicate that they had two storeys. Also, a http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Nebisamwil.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:32

Nebi Samwil

section of a 3.5 m.-wide street was exposed for a length of 55 m. A complete dwelling, on the northern side of the street, is typical of the houses of Nebi Samwil during that period. Its area was 24 x 20 m. and it consisted of rooms surrounding a courtyard. The walls were constructed of carefully trimmed stones covered with high-quality plaster and the doorposts and lintels were made of ashlars. The upper storey of the buildings was reached from the higher, northern street, while the ground floor was entered from the southern, lower street. Rock-cut cisterns guaranteed the residents' water supply.

The Byzantine Monastery According to accounts by Hieronymous (beginning of 5th century) the bones of the prophet Samuel were brought from their place of burial in the Holy Land to the city of Chalcedon (in Asia Minor). Yet, in the same period, a monastery was built at Nebi Samwil in honor of the Prophet Samuel, which became a place of pilgrimage and served as a hostel for Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. The monastery was restored and enlarged during the reign of Justinian (mid-6th century) and it continued to exist in the Early Arab period (7th–10th centuries). It was almost completely destroyed when the Crusaders built their fortress. Only a portion of mosaic pavement and a wine press remain. A very large number of Byzantine coins, some from faraway places, attest to the occupancy by pilgrims during this period. A major pottery production center was established on the southern slope of the hill during the Early Arab period. Several pottery kilns, some with domed roofs intact, were uncovered in the excavations. Dozens of stamped jar handles with Arabic inscriptions, such as "Blessings to Yusuf" and "Blessings to Suleiman" and the name "Deir Samwil" [Monastery of Samuel] were found in the production waste pile.

The Crusader Fortress During the Crusader period Nebi Samwil gained symbolic significance, because from here, after a three-year journey, the Crusader army had its first glimpse of Jerusalem (7 July 1099) . They called the hill Mons Gaudii [Mountain of Joy] and constructed a fortress there, to protect the northern approaches to Jerusalem from Muslim raids. Convoys of pilgrims also found shelter within its walls on their way to the Holy City. The church within the fortress was built in 1157 over the traditional tomb of the prophet Samuel. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Nebisamwil.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:35:32

Nebi Samwil

The Crusader fortress was rectangular (100 x 67 m.) surrounded by walls and with a church at its center. The stones used to build the fortress were quarried on the top of the hill, creating 5 m.-high rock-cut cliffs on the northern and eastern sides of the fortress, upon which the walls were constructed. Strong terrace-walls were built on the southern and western sides, which artificially raised the base of the fortress. The walls were some 2 m. thick, built of large ashlars reinforced with cement; a large tower (7 x 6 m.) protected the southwestern corner, a smaller one the northwestern corner of the fortress. An additional large tower (6 x 6 m.) was built on the southern side. Two gates in its western wall gave access to the fortress. They led directly into the courtyard in which the church stood. One gate, for everyday use, was approached via a ramp next to the wall; the second one was reached over a stone bridge, 28 m. long and 2.5 m. wide. The bridge was supported by a series of arches, ascending from north to south. Along the southwestern side of the fortress two long, underground vaults were built, the southern one 72 x 8 m. and along its inner, eastern side, a 46 x 6.4 m. vault. These vaults were part of the podium upon which the courtyard was built and relieved the pressure on the retaining walls of the fortress. The spaces thereby created were used for storage. Of the large, elaborate Crusader church, which occupied most of the fortress' courtyard, only some architectural elements, such as capitals and marble columns, were found in the excavations. A mosque, preserving portions of the earlier structure, now stands on the central part of the Crusader church. An examination beneath the mosque revealed that the traditional tomb of the prophet Samuel is the crusader crypt, which was reached by descending stairs from the church. North of the fortress compound a large, rock-cut camping area (47 x 37 m.) was prepared for use by the crusader army, and by groups of pilgrims. It had stables with rock-cut troughs in its eastern part, and a hostel for pilgrims was built on a bedrock terrace. This compound was protected in the east by a watchtower erected on a large square base hewn out of the bedrock. The fortress was pillaged in 1187 by the Muslims under the command of Salah ed-Din (Saladin) and was later destroyed to its foundations, for fear of falling once more into Crusader hands. A collapse of hundreds of stones, in its southeastern corner, bears witness to the destruction.

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Nebi Samwil

In the ensuing centuries, Nebi Samwil, as the traditional tomb of the prophet Samuel, became a place of pilgrimage for Jews, until a mosque was builtthere in 1730. It was badly damaged in 1917, during a battle between British and Turkish forces. The mosque was restored after World War I and took on its present appearance. Remains of all periods of settlement at Nebi Samwil have been preserved at the site. Particularly impressive are the remains of the Crusader fortifications, now exposed after removal of the debris that had covered it for centuries. Above the ancient remains stands the mosque with its high minaret, a landmark clearly visible from a considerable distance. The excavations were directed by Y. Magen on behalf of the Archeological Staff in Judea and Samaria.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry. Photograph of Samuel's Tomb courtesy of Jack Hazut

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The Nimrod Fortress: Muslim Stronghold in the Golan

The Nimrod Fortress: Muslim Stronghold in the Golan

The Nimrod Fortress (Kal’at al-Subeiba in Arabic), is situated in the northern Golan, on a ridge rising some 800 meters above sea level. It is named after a biblical hero, the hunter Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-9) who, according to local tradition, dwelt on this summit. The fortress overlooks the deep, narrow valley separating Mt. Hermon from the Golan Heights and the road linking the Galilee with Damascus (in present-day Syria). The fortress was founded in the Middle Ages, probably by the Crusaders, to defend the city of Banias in the valley below against Muslim incursions. Later, the Muslim rulers of Damascus rebuilt it to defend their border against the Crusaders. During the 12th-13th centuries, it changed hands several times, but it was maintained and strengthened mainly by the Muslims, as attested to by the numerous Arabic inscriptions found incorporated into the building. The fortifications follow the contours of the long, narrow ridge and are visible to this day. The fortress measures 420 m. in length and 60-150 m. in width and is built of large, carefully squared stones. Along the walls, particularly on the southern side where extra strength was required, numerous rectangular and semi-circular towers, roofed with pointed crossarches, were erected. Water was stored in rock-cut plastered pools below the fortress, accessible via protected staircases, thus guaranteeing the supply of water in times of siege. Overlooking the high, eastern edge of the fortress stood a large keep (a dungeon-fortress within a fortress), measuring 65 x 45 m. and protected by massive rectangular towers. In the west, it was separated from the main http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Nimrod.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:35:34

The Nimrod Fortress: Muslim Stronghold in the Golan

fortress by a moat, access being provided by a bridge. The keep served as living quarters for the commander of the fortress; in time of siege it became an additional inner defense position. During 1993-94, the debris which blocked the tower-gate on the western side of the fortress were cleared. On this side, a deep moat cut into the rock, probably with a drawbridge, protected its entrance. The gate-tower, according to an inscription inside it, was built by the Ayyubid ruler alAziz Othman in 1230. The double-paneled entrance doors were locked with wooden beams inserted into grooves in the doorjambs. Also well preserved is the narrow groove for lowering the defensive iron net (portcullis). Fragments of a monumental Arabic inscription of considerable length indicate that the Mamluk sultan Baibars restored the gate-tower in 1275. This new gate house was constructed of particularly large, well-trimmed stones weighing several tons each; it measured 29 x 23 m. and was 30 m. high. A large cistern was hewn in the rock beneath and a narrow staircase connected the tower’s different stories. A 27-meter-long stepped, secret passage led from the gate tower to the outside. It would have enabled the defenders of the fortress to launch a surprise attack on besiegers, or if necessary, to flee from it. At the end of the 13th century, the Muslim conquest of the port city of Acre on the Mediterranean signified the end of Crusader rule in the Holy Land. The Nimrod fortress lost its strategic value and fell into disrepair; the ruins visible today bear silent witness to its past might. The excavations were directed by M. Hartal on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Qumran

Qumran

Qumran (in Arabic: Khirbet Qumran; its ancient name is unknown) is located on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, several kilometers south of Jericho. In a cave in the Judean Desert cliffs south of Qumran, Bedouins in 1947 found the first Dead Sea scrolls. Following this discovery, Qumran was excavated by the Dominican Father R. de Vaux in the years 1951-56. A complex of buildings, extending over an area of 100 x 80 m. was uncovered, dating to the Second Temple period. The location of the site and its plan, the scrolls found in the vicinity and the simple ceramic vessels of the inhabitants, bear witness in de Vaux's view, to a settlement of the Essene sect. We also know of the presence of the Essenes in the Judean Desert and near the Dead Sea from the writings of Pliny the Elder. (Naturalis Historia V, 17)

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Qumran

The view of Qumran as an Essene center is opposed by those who propose that the site was a villa, an inn or a fortress. These views are not supported by archeological evidence, and most scholars accept de Vaux's interpretation. Recently, an ostracon (a potsherd with writing) with several lines of Hebrew script, was found at Qumran. It is a contract in which a man named Honi bestows his possessions, including a building, an olive and a fig orchard, to a group called yahad (Hebrew, together). If this reading is correct, it provides evidence for identifying the sect that inhabited Qumran, and the name by which members of the group designated themselves. The term occurs in other manuscripts of the Essenes.

Qumran At the end of the First Temple period (8th-7th centuries BCE), a first settlement was established at the site. Sparse remains of a small, fortified farmhouse or Judahite fort were found. The site was identified by some as Secacah, or the City of Salt, two of the six cities in the desert territory of Judah. (Joshua 15:61-62) Settlement at Qumran was renewed at the end of the 2nd century BCE, probably during the reign of the Hasmonean King John Hyrcanus I, when the existing structure was restored and enlarged. Then, at the beginning of the 1st century BCE, during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus, renewed building determined the plan of the site until its destruction. An aqueduct was built from a cliff above Wadi Qumran several hundred meters east of the site. Winter floodwaters were collected behind a dam at the foot of the cliff and from there flowed in the aqueduct to Qumran and filled the numerous cisterns and mikva'ot (ritual baths) there. The supply of water was essential to a permanent settlement at Qumran, where summer temperatures in this desert region are extremely high. The plan of Qumran is unique, not at all similar to other contemporary settlements, with its many large halls, undoubtedly serving public functions, and the relatively small number of living quarters. The main entrance to the settlement was in the north, at the foot of a watchtower. The walls of the buildings were made of stones gathered at the foot of the cliff and plastered with thick, white-gray plaster. The windows and doorposts were built of well-trimmed stones and the roofs, as was common in that period, were constructed of wooden beams, straw and plaster.

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Qumran

The main structure at Qumran had several rooms, some obviously two stories high, arranged around a central courtyard. In the northwestern corner was a square watchtower with particularly thick walls that rose above the rest of the settlement. The tower served as a lookout and warning post and protected the settlement against raids by desert tribes. A room with benches built along its walls served as a meeting-place for the members of the community and probably as a place for Torah (Bible) study. Additional building complexes, south and east of the main building contained long halls, rooms and ritual baths. One of the large halls was for meetings and served as a refectory. In a storage room and a kitchen next to it, neat piles of hundreds of pottery vessels and a large number of small food bowls were found. A workshop, in which pottery vessels for use of the community were produced, was discovered in the southeastern part of the site. The workshop included a basin for preparing the clay, a potters wheel made of stone and two round kilns for firing. A large number of mikva'ot (ritual baths) was found throughout the site. Excavated into the marl soil, they were waterproofed with thick, gray hydraulic plaster. The broad staircase leading to the bottom was at times divided down the middle by a low (20 cm.high) wall, which separated those descending for immersion from those leaving after purification. The ritual baths were fed by water from the aqueduct. Mikva'ot similar to those at Qumran were typical of public and private buildings in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Second Temple period. The Mishnah (Masekhet Mikva'ot) notes the importance of immersion in water for spiritual purification and lists the requirements for such ritual baths. The mikva'ot at Qumran were built according to all these requirements. Unusual at Qumran is the large number of these installations and the size of some of them, relative to the settlement. The latter probably served the members of the community for communal immersion, a central part in their daily rituals. An earthquake severely damaged the buildings and mikva'ot of Qumran in 31 BCE. Excavations revealed cracks in walls and a thick layer of ash from a fire that had raged. The earthquake was mentioned by Josephus. (Antiquities 15, 121 ff.; Wars I, 370 ff.)

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Qumran

The settlement at Qumran was subsequently abandoned, until the beginning of the 1st century CE, when members of the community returned and settled there once more. They restored the earlier structures and, with various additions and modifications, used them. In the main building was a long room, in which remains of benches, or low tables, made of mud and plastered on the outside, as well as small clay inkwells were found. According to the excavator, these finds indicate that the room was a scriptorium, where the settlement's scribes copied the holy writings and the laws governing the community.

Perhaps only a few dozen of the leaders of the community lived permanently at Qumran. Most of the members of the sect, probably totaling several thousand, lived in villages and cities. A large Essene community certainly lived in Jerusalem (according to Josephus, the name of the gate in the southern wall of Jerusalem, at Mt. Zion, was called the Essenes' Gate). For certain periods of time, members of the sect lived in the desert near Qumra

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The Ram of Atlit

The Ram of Atlit

It is the only known ram of its kind in existence in the world and considered to be one of the largest bronze finds of antiquity. Found in 1980 in the waters of Atlit (south of Haifa) this three-pronged ram has contributed much to the knowledge of naval warfare. Many people are familiar with the battering ram used on land, but are not aware of the existence of a similar weapon in naval engagements. Iconographic representations, (from the eighth century BCE on) all show a ship bearing a ram. Naval rams underwent various changes throughout the years. Single pointed rams seem to have been used most often, but had the disadvantage of breaking easily. These types of rams, which only created a hole in the enemy ship, caused limited damage. It was also dangerous, since the attacking ship could find itself literally entangled in the enemy ship, when its ram would be caught in the enemy ship's hull and the attacking ship would find itself unable to disengage itself from its prey. Later naval rams took on the shape of an animal's head. The three-pronged ram (such as the Ram of Atlit) developed at the end of the sixth century BCE and had the advantage of shattering an enemy ship's hull, creating damage that could not be repaired at sea. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Etruscans throughout the Mediterranean used the threepronged ram in naval battles. An impressive artifact, the Ram of Atlit, is on display at the National Maritime Museum. Shaped like a chariot, the ram was found devoid of its ship and was probably made in Cyprus. It features mythological symbols including eagles, a thunderbolt and more. The existence of and use of threepronged rams is known from a variety of sources including, coins, pottery http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/atlitram.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:35:39

The Ram of Atlit

etc. But the Ram of Atlit is the only actual known specimen of this type. It weighs 465 kilograms (almost half a ton) and is composed of 90.1% copper, 9.5% tin and trace elements of iron and sulphur. The National Maritime Museum covers 5,000 years of maritime history while emphasizing the ongoing relationship between Eretz Israel (and Jews) to the sea. The museum features underwater archaeological finds, ship models, a large collection of antique maps, pottery, coins and more. The museum is located just above the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum and is also within walking distance of Elijah’s Cave. The museum is located at 198 Allenby Street, Haifa, 31447, 04/853-6622, TEL 04/853-9286 FAX Visiting Hours: Sun., Mon., Wed. 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Tues. and Thurs. 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Fri., 10:00 AM -1:00 PM and Sat. 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Entry fees: Adults, 20 NIS/pp, Children, Students and Senior Citizens, 15 NIS/pp. Group rates, 15 NIS/pp, Children, Students and Senior Citizens, 12 NIS/ pp. Guided tours in English for groups are available for 250 NIS. Note: An option is available to purchase a combined ticket (valid for one month) to three museums, the National Maritime Museum, the Haifa Museum and the Israel National Museum of Science. Ticket prices are as follows, Family, 80 NIS, Adults, 33 NIS/pp., Children, 20 NIS/pp.

Source: Copyright Text © 2000 Gems in Israel All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.

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Ramat Rahel

Ramat Rahel

Ramat Rahel is located on a hilltop about halfway between the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Excavations carried out between 1959 and 1962 uncovered remains of several successive periods of occupation. The most important are those of a large citadel and a magnificent palace of the kings of Judah, dated to the 8th-7th centuries BCE. The site was identified by the excavator as biblical Beit Hakerem (House of the Vineyard), one of the places from which warning fire signals were sent to Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period. (Jeremiah 6:1)

The Biblical Period During the 8th century BCE, a royal citadel was built here by one of the kings of Judah. Of this citadel only a small section of a casemate wall (a double fortification wall with compartments), remained. But more than a hundred seal impressions of the lamelekh (Hebrew, to the King) type, stamped on handles of storage jars, were found and are associated with the early days of this citadel. They are indicative of the site's importance as an administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah. Towards the end of the 7th - beginning of the 6th century BCE, a new royal citadel, much larger than its predecessor, was built on the site; it had an outer fortification system, and an inner citadel with a palace. The outer fortification system was composed of a massive, 3 - 4 m.-wide wall. Though only small portions of it were exposed, it may be assumed that it encircled an area of some five acres on the top of the hill. Inside this http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Ramatrahel.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:41

Ramat Rahel

wall, no building remains were found. It is believed that this large courtyard served for mustering troops and chariotry. The inner citadel, measuring 75 x 50 m., stood at the northeastern corner of the courtyard. It was surrounded by a 5 m.-wide casemate wall. The rooms in the wall had floors covered with a thick, hard plaster, which suggests that they were storerooms. The gate to the inner citadel was in the center of the eastern wall and was reinforced with buttresses. It had two cells, one on each side of the entrance, with floors of massive stone flags. The gate was closed with inner and outer double doors. A narrower opening into the inner citadel was located in the same wall, several meters to the south. The area inside the citadel was divided into a stone-paved courtyard with buildings along the northern and western sides. The northern building consisted of an open, inner courtyard surrounded by several rooms, and it probably served as the king's residence. A narrow, hidden postern, built of large stones under the northern wall connected the citadel with the outside, providing an escape passage. The royal citadel at Ramat Rahel is one of the most instructive examples of Israelite-Phoenician architecture in the biblical period. The construction of the casemate walls and the buildings of the citadel was of excellent quality, with smoothed and squared stones laid in well-fitted courses. The main gate, built of large, dressed stones also shows fine workmanship. Several complete proto-Aeolic capitals were found in the ruins of the citadel; they once decorated the doorposts of the main gate and the entrances to the buildings. Window balustrades consisting of a row of stone colonnettes, decorated with palmettes and topped with joined capitals in the proto-Aeolic style, were also found. They probably adorned the upper story of the buildings inside the citadel. These decorative architectural elements echo a verse in the book of Jeremiah, which describes the windows in the house of Jehoiakim king of Judah: and cut out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermilion... (Jeremiah 22:14) In the debris that covered the citadel after its destruction by the Babylonians, many luxury objects, such as imported Assyrian palace ware were found. A unique find is a seal impression with the inscription to Eliaqim, steward of Yochin is ascribed to an official of King Jehoiachin, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Ramatrahel.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:41

Ramat Rahel

king of Judah, who was the son of King Jehoiakim.

Later periods Beit Hakerem was a district center during the Persian Period, (Nehemiah 3:14) as confirmed by archeological finds. Dozens of seal impressions on jar handles from the 4th-3rd centuries BCE were uncovered. They bear the inscription yehud, the official name of the province of Judah in this period. Some are inscribed yehud hphh (the governor of the district of Judah) while several others bear only the names of governors. From the Hasmonean period (2nd century BCE), many seal impressions on jar handles with the name yrshlm (Jerusalem) were found. During the Herodian period (1st century CE), a small settlement existed at the site. After its destruction in 70 CE, it was abandoned until the 3rd century, when the Roman Tenth Legion built a villa and a bathhouse on the hill. During the Byzantine period (mid-5th century), a large monastery and a basical church were built here; they were abandoned in the Early Islamic period (7th century). The excavations were conducted by Y. Aharoni on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities (today's Israel Antiquities Authority), the Israel Exploration Society, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Rome.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Ramla: Arab Capital of the Province of Palestine

Ramla: Arab Capital of the Province of Palestine

Ramla is located in the coastal plain, some 15 km. east of Tel Aviv. The city was built at the crossroads of two major routes: the via maris, along the coast, and the road that connected the port of Jaffa with Jerusalem. The origin of the name Ramla is in the Arabic word raml, meaning "sand", and apparently refers to the sand dunes on which the city was built. According to historical sources, Ramla was founded at the beginning of the 8th century by the Umayyad Calif Suleiman ibn Abd el-Malik. It served as the Umayyad and Abbasid capital of the Province of Palestine (Jund Filistin), and the seat of Arab governors of the province in the 8th and 9th centuries. In the 14th century, Ramla regained importance for a short time as the provincial capital of the Mamluks. The remains of Arab Ramla lie buried under the present-day city, making archeological research difficult. Results of excavations carried out in 1949 and limited salvage excavations conducted since, indicate that the city has been continuously inhabited since its foundation. The best known historical building in Ramla is the "White Mosque" and the minaret next to it. The remains of the original structure, erected at the beginning of the 8th century during Umayyad rule, were incorporated in the restoration work by Salah al-Din (Saladin) at the end of the 12th century. The minaret was built during the Mamluk period, in the 14th century. The White Mosque (93 x 84 m.) is oriented to the cardinal points. It is

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Ramla: Arab Capital of the Province of Palestine

surrounded by walls, with a main gate in the east and a secondary entrance in the north. At the center of the structure is a large, open courtyard; along its southern wall, a 12 m. wide mosque was built, its ceiling consisting of cross-vaulting supported at the center by a row of piers. In its wall facing the courtyard is a row of 12 openings between pilasters supporting the ceiling of the mosque on this side. The ceiling of the mosque and its western portion are additions made during the restoration work by Salah alDin, as is the mihrab (prayer niche) in the southern wall facing Mecca. Under the courtyard the Umayyads constructed enormous, even-sized cisterns for storage of water which remain intact to this day. Broad pilasters support the barrel-domed ceilings of the cisterns. They were filled with rainwater collected from the area around the mosque and with water carried by an aqueduct from the springs in the hills east of Ramla. These reservoirs provided water for the worshipers at the mosque and filled the pool for ablutions at the center of the courtyard, of which only the foundation remains today. An Arabic inscription in Kufic script, which was found in the excavations, relates to the restoration of the plaster in the year 1408. The square minaret, several stories high, built by the Mamluks in the 14th century, stands to this day. Inside, it has a central staircase which takes one to the roof. In the outer walls of the minaret are long, narrow windows in recessed arches. An Arabic inscription on the lintel above the entrance to the minaret states that it was constructed during the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Muhammad ibn Qala’un in 1318. Some 500 m. northeast of the White Mosque is an intact subterranean vaulted water reservoir; it was constructed by the Abbasid Caliph Harun alRashid in the year 768 to safeguard the water supply of the city. A large and varied assemblage of pottery from the Umayyad period was found in the excavations. It indicates that Ramla was also a center of pottery production during this period. In excavations outside the White Mosque and at a number of sites in the city, several buildings from the Umayyad, Abbasid and Mamluk periods were found, verifying that Ramla was indeed founded on sand dunes during the Umayyad period. From that period, fragmentary remains of several large structures, probably of public and administrative nature, were found. Of particular interest is a portion of an Umayyad- period mosaic floor with http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Ramla.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:42

Ramla: Arab Capital of the Province of Palestine

geometric patterns. The frames dividing the floor are each decorated with a different motif, among them grape clusters, pomegranates, an eight-pointed star and the figure of a cat and birds. The southern part of the mosaic depicts a prayer niche (mihrab), consisting of two pillars supporting an arch which frames an Arabic inscription in Kufic script, including a quotation from the Koran: Be thou not among the negligent – intended as an encouragement to pray. This mosaic prayer niche is the oldest known in Islamic art. Excavations: 1949 – by J. Kaplan and subsequent excavations by M. Ben-Dov, M. Rosen Ayalon and A. Eitan, A. Druks and M. Brosh on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities (today, the Israel Antiquities Authority); 1996 – O. Gutfeld, on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Recent Archeological Discoveries

Recent Archeological Discoveries (1999) by Hillel Geva

Jerusalem – The Tomb of a Chained Anchorite On a hill near the Jerusalem – Bethlehem road, a subterranean complex of cells dating to the Byzantine period, was uncovered in 1991. It was composed of a stepped entryway leading to an antechamber lined with masonry and containing eight rectangular niches, probably used for storing personal effects and books. The innermost cell (1.75 x 0.85m, 1.70 m. high) was also partly lined with masonry and had small niches with a ceramic bowl in each; a lampholder was suspended from the ceiling. On the floor lay the skeleton of a 24-26 year-old ascetic; it was on its side, the legs bent sideways, and an iron chain wound four times around the pelvis and back and over the shoulders. The chain, with a total length of six meters, weighs six kilograms and is made of 50 mm.-long links. The skeleton is that of a Christian recluse who chose to live as an anchorite in this subterranean cell. The wearing of heavy chains was an accepted way of mortifying the flesh, to prevent impure thoughts and ensure celibacy. The anchorite’s secluded habitation became his burial chamber and a round memorial structure, 9.4 m. in diameter, was later erected above it.

Yodfat A mass grave was discovered in the remains of the Jewish city of Yodfat in the Galilee. Bones of at least 30 individuals were found in a water cistern, in which they had been deposited. The find provides vivid evidence of Josephus Flavius’ eye-witness account of the bloody battle that took place there in 67 CE, during the Jewish Revolt. He reported that at the end of the fighting the Jewish survivors committed suicide and that he himself surrendered to the Romans.

Tiberias – A Hoard of Metal Objects http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/recent.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:35:45

Recent Archeological Discoveries

Three large pottery jars of the Fatimid period (10th - 11th century) were uncovered in 1998 during excavations at the southern end of ancient Tiberias. The jars, hidden under the floor of a building, contained some 500 artifacts of bronze and copper, in an excellent state of preservation: candlesticks, lampstands, bowls, cups, ewers, bottles, small boxes, incense burners, oil lamps, bells and small sculpted birds and snakes. The objects were made in a variety of techniques of casting and hammering and some have intricate punched and engraved decorations and Arabic inscriptions. This is the largest assemblage of metal artifacts from the Fatimid period found to date in Israel. Many coins with Christian symbols, from this period, were also found. This may indicate that the artifacts belonged to a Christian merchant or metal-smith. Why the treasure was hidden is not known, but it was probably related to the conquest of Tiberias by the Crusaders in 1099.

Contents 1. Hatzor - “The Head of all those Kingdoms” 2. Tabgha - Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes

3. Hamat Gader - Baths of Medicinal Hot Springs 4. Belvoir - A Crusader Fortress Overlooking the Jordan Valley

5. Ramla - Arab Capital of the Province of Palestine 6. Jerusalem - The Citadel 7. Ekron: A Philistine City 8. Ein Gedi - An Ancient Oasis Settlement 9. Be’er Sheva: Prehistoric Dwelling Sites 10. Avdat: A Nabatean City in the Negev

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Recent Archeological Discoveries

Credits Israel Information Center, Jerusalem October 1999 No. 4 Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed. Photographs courtesy of: J. Baumgarten: 39 Benedictine Monastery Tabgha: 11, 12 H. Geva: 26, 27, 28 (left) Hazor Expedition: 7 (bottom), 8 (top), 9 G. Laron: 10 I. Sztulman: 7 (top) Y. Hirschfeld: 15, 16, 17, 36 Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavation Project I. Sztulman: 29, 30, 31, 32 (top), 33 (left) J. Rosenberg (Reconstruction): 32 (bottom) Z. Radovan: 33 (right) Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem/ A. Hirschfield: 25 R. Kurd: 28 (right) Photographs: W. Braun: 20, 22 Israel Antiquities Authority: Cover, 37, 40 Mif’alot Yefei Nof /S.Ginott: 19 D. Horowitz: 33 Z. Radovan: 8 (bottom), 35, 42, 43, 44, 45, Photographs of finds and artifacts published with permission of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Recent Archeological Discoveries (2003)

Recent Archeological Discoveries (2003) by Hillel Geva

An Early Islamic Fortress at Ashdot Yam The fortress is located on the shoreline, some 30 km. south of Tel Aviv. It was excavated between the years 1997-1999. The rectangular fortress (60x40 m.) is built of well-dressed kurkar stones bonded with mortar. The walls, preserved to a height of 8 m., are 2 m. thick and reinforced on the outside by a series of piers, 3-4 m. apart. Eight towers protect the fortress: the western towers, facing the sea, are square; the eastern towers are round. Two pairs of semi-circular towers guard the two gates leading into the citadel. Vaulted rooms were built aong the walls of the central courtyard. A small bathhouse, consisting of a well, two bathtubs and a furnace for heating the water, is located in the northern part of the courtyard. In its center stood a small mosque (13x3 m.), its mihrab (prayer niche) facing Mecca. This fortress was built during the Umayyad period (late 7th - early 8th century) to protect the southern coastline against marauders from the sea. It was in use until the Crusader period.

Two Engraved Bronze Plaques from Tel Dan http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/arch2003.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:35:47

Recent Archeological Discoveries (2003)

Fragments of two engraved bronze plaques, dated to the 9th century BCE, were recently found at Tel Dan in northern Israel. The fragments, each about 9 cm. in diameter, were discovered in a well-planned building of several rooms situated in a large paved courtyard outside the city walls of biblical Dan. The building was probably part of a hutzot, a market place outside the city walls; the term hutzot (Heb. lit. "outsides") appears several times in the Bible, e.g. I Kings 20:34. On the right side of one plaque is a scene depicting a human figure (king?) with upraised arms, standing behind a table covered with cloth; on the left is a throne, probably of a god or goddess, and at top center is the royal symbol of the winged sun-disk. A bull is depicted in the lower part of the second plaque, with a human figure with outstretched arms standing on it; wings appear to spread from this figure - probably the depiction of a goddess; to the left stands another human figure with outstretched arms. Many parallels of such scenes are known from Neo-Hittite art, which was widespread in the Aramean Kingdoms (northern Syria today) during this period.

The Davidson Exhibition and Reconstruction Center in Jerusalem The newly opened Davidson Center is located at the entrance to the Jeruslaem Archeological Park, near the Dung Gate of the Old City. Located in the 7th-century Umayyad Palace, the center presents the 5,000year-old history of Jerusalem through archeolgoical exhibits and audiovisual presentations. Especially noteworthy is the virtual reality reconstruction of the Temple Mount, allowing visitors to enjoy a "realtime" tour of the area. For further information, see the park's website: www.archpark.org.il

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Recent Archeological Discoveries (2003)

Contents Golan - A Unique Chalcolithic culture Capernaum - City of Jesus and its Jewish Synagogue Tel Qasile - A Philistine Settlement with a Temple Kiryat Sefer - A Synagogue in a Jewish Village of the Second Temple Period Gezer - A Canaanite City and Royal Solomonic City Jericho - The Winter Palace of King Herod Jerusalem - Binyane Ha'uma: A Ceramics Workshop of the Tenth Roman Legion Jerusalem - Water Systems of Biblical Times Cave of the Treasure - A Hoard of Metal Objects from the Chalcolithic Period Beer Shema - The Church of St. Stephen

Credits: Israel Information Center, Jerusalem 2003 No. 8 Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Recent Archeological Discoveries (2003)

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The Rockefeller Museum

The Rockefeller Museum

Intensified archeological activity in the Holy Land in the first decades of the 20th century prompted the need for a dignified venue to store and exhibit the finds. American philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller, donated $2 million for building, equipping and maintaining a museum, and the British mandatory government also provided a subsidy. Rockefeller stipulated that the museum bearing his name be an archeological, not a natural science museum, and that the museum’s exhibits should shed light on the part played by the peoples of the Holy Land in world history. The building was to be located opposite the northeast corner of Jerusalem’s Old City walls. After 1948, when the area came under Jordanian rule, the museum was administered briefly by an international council, but, recognizing its tremendous value, the Jordanian government soon nationalized it. Since 1968, the Rockefeller Museum has been an integral part of the Israel Museum.

Source: Mitchell G. Bard and Moshe Schwartz. 1001 Facts Everyone Should Know About Israel. NJ: Jason Aronson, 2004.

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Rogem Hiri

Rogem Hiri: An Ancient Mysterious Construction

The megalithic complex of Rogem Hiri (Rujm al-Hiri in Arabic, meaning “stone heap of the wild cat”) is located in the central Golan, some 16 km. east of the Sea of Galilee, on a desolate plateau of basalt boulders. Since its discovery in a survey of the Golan in the late 1960s, this mysterious site has aroused the curiosity of archeologists. Between 1988 and 1991, archeological excavations and research were conducted in order to establish facts and determine the time of its construction and its function. Rogem Hiri is a monumental construction of local basalt fieldstones of various sizes. It consists of two architectural units: four concentric circles enclosing a central, round cairn. The outer, largest circle is about 500 m. long and 156 m. in diameter. The walls are of varying width, of up to 3.5 m., and have been preserved to a height of 2.5 m., obliterated in some parts by stone collapse. Several radial walls connect the circular walls, creating a labyrinth-like structure which has only two entryways, one facing northeast, the other southeast. At the center of the circles is a cairn, an irregular heap of stones. It is 20-25 m. in diameter and preserved to a height of 6 m. The cairn consists of a central mound of stones surrounded by a lower belt, which gives it the appearance of a stepped, truncated cone. A geophysical survey using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) revealed the pile of stones to be hollow. A built burial chamber, with a narrow corridor leading to it, was discovered there. The chamber is round, roughly 2 m. in diameter, built of large stone plates arranged on top of each other, but slightly slanting inwards. It was covered by two massive slabs of basalt, each weighing

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Rogem Hiri

over 5.5 tons, which created a semi-corbelled dome over the burial chamber. Rogem Hiri is one of the most intriguing archeological sites in Israel. A variety of theories concerning the function of this structure, which has no parallel in the Middle East, had been proposed prior to the current research: a religious center; a defensive enclosure; a large burial complex; a center for astronomical observation; and a calendrical device. The structure was even identified as the tomb of Og, King of the Bashan and last of the giants. (Deuteronomy 3:11) Rogem Hiri was also regarded as an astronomical observatory – a sort of Middle Eastern Stonehenge. This theory is supported by the fact that the eastern side, facing the rising sun, was built with much greater care. Also, the only two entryways are located on that side, the northeastern one roughly oriented towards the solstitial sunrise on 21 June. The archeologists who excavated the site offer other possible explanations. According to one view, the concentric circles were built during the Early Bronze Age, in the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, as a cultic and ceremonial center, where nomadic people in the process of becoming sedentary gathered annually; and that much later, during the late Bronze Age (1400 – 1300 BCE) the cairn containing the burial chamber was added (it was robbed of its contents in antiquity and only a few artifacts were found, including gold earrings and bronze arrowheads). Measurements revealed that the cairn is not located in the center of the concentric circles, supporting the view that the stone pile was a later addition. According to another view, the architecture of Rogem Hiri proves that both the concentric circles and the cairn were parts of a single structure. There is no evidence for a cultic structure below the cairn and artifacts typical of known cultic centers of that period were not found. Rogem Hiri was therefore a monumental commemorative tomb – the mausoleum of an Early Bronze Age leader in the Golan; the tomb was cleared of its early burial remains in the Late Bronze Age, and then reused for burial. The size of the site reflects centralized organization and leadership capable of carrying out an engineering project of such proportions (it is estimated that 42,000 tons of stones had to be transported!). The riddle of Rogem Hiri remains unsolved. Those who built it some 5,000 years ago left the stage of history and took with them the secrets of this unusual site.

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Rogem Hiri

Source: Bet She'arim: The Jewish necropolis of the Roman Period. Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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The Roman Boat from the Sea of Galilee

The Roman Boat from the Sea of Galilee In the winter of 1986, after several years of drought, the water level of the Sea of Galilee had dropped by several meters and the shoreline had receded considerably. Two young men, walking along the shore south of their kibbutz - Ginosar, situated on the western bank of the lake — noticed the outline of a boat in the mud. Experts called in to examine the discovery concluded that the remains of an ancient boat had been found. It was decided to excavate it immediately, before the possible rise of the water level. Innovative and sophisticated techniques were required for lifting and moving the boat. First, a massive dike was built around the site to prevent the lake from inundating it, while pumps were used to keep the groundwater out. The wood had to be kept wet during the removal of the silt from inside the hull, which was then strengthened with fiberglass and filled with polyurethane. Tunnels were dug under the boat and its sides strengthened. When the extremely fragile remains of the boat were safely packed, water was pumped into the big pit that had been created during the excavation, and the boat was floated to shore. It was placed in a specially built conservation pool at the Yigal Allon Museum of Kibbutz Ginosar, where the polyurethane casing was removed and the boat resubmerged in water. In a process which took several years, synthetic wax was added to the wood, to give it sufficient structural strength for display outside the pool. The boat was found lying perpendicular to the shore, its stern toward the lake; only the lower portion of the rounded stern was preserved. The boat's length is 8.2 m., its width 2.3 m. and its depth 1.2 m. It was built in the known "shell first" fashion, with mortise and tenon joinery and constructed mainly of cedar planks and oak frames. Much of the wood

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The Roman Boat from the Sea of Galilee

was in secondary use, i.e., it had been removed from older, obsolete boats. Additional wood fragments were uncovered nearby, attesting that the boat was found in a place that had served as a shipyard. It was large enough to carry 15 people, including a crew of five. Though apparently used for fishing, it may also have transported passengers and goods. By the construction techniques and two pottery vessels found near it, archeologists judged that the boat was from the Roman period. Carbon-14 tests confirmed that the boat had been constructed and used between 100 BCE and 70 CE. The few details known about boats on the Sea of Galilee during Roman times are from written sources, such as Josephus Flavius and the New Testament, and from mosaic floors depicting boats. The discovery of this ancient boat of the Sea of Galilee therefore received worldwide attention.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Sha'ar Hagolan: A Neolithic Village

Sha'ar Hagolan: A Neolithic Village

When the members of Kibbutz Sha’ar Hagolan dug fishponds in their fields in 1943, they accidentally uncovered a prehistoric site. Partially excavated from 1948 to 1962, under the direction of M. Stekelis of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the unique culture found there became known as the Yarmukian or Sha’ar Hagolan Culture. New excavations, since 1989, uncovered impressive remains of a neolithic village, dating to 5,500 - 5,000 BCE. The village spreads over hundreds of dunams (one dunam = 1/4 acre). It is located south of the Sea of Galilee, on the bank of the Yarmuk River which flows into the Jordan just south of the site. Several buildings with rectangular and circular rooms were uncovered: the foundations consist of courses of fieldstones topped with courses of loaf-shaped, sun-dried mudbricks; the walls are sturdily constructed; the floors are beaten earth; and the ceilings were of straw and mud over wooden frames. A variety of vessels was found, including flat basalt slabs and concave basalt mortars for domestic use. At the center of the village stood a very large, extremely well-constructed building, obviously serving some public functions. It has a courtyard reached from the narrow, winding alley which runs between the houses of the village. Several rectangular rooms with particularly thick walls and one circular room, which served as a silo, were built around the courtyard. The abundance of artifacts found in the village is indicative of a developed mixed-economy culture of fishing, hunting and graincultivating. Flint tools were widely used. They were made by advanced methods from flint cores – pebbles collected from the river banks – and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/shaar.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:36:05

Sha'ar Hagolan: A Neolithic Village

include sickle blades with one denticulated side, which were inserted into handles of bone or wood; arrowheads, some large, elongated and curved, others very small and triangular, delicately retouched; also polished axes, scrapers, awls and burins. During this period, when pottery vessels first appeared in the Middle East, the potters of Sha’ar Hagolan produced a variety of sophisticated, wellfired vessels – round open shapes for bowls and closed forms for jars, many with flat bases on which they stood firmly. The most typical decorations were incised herringbone patterns within parallel lines, sometimes also with red, painted bands. The outstanding characteristic of the Yarmukian culture is its art. The artistic and cultic objects include engraved and incised pebbles and small stone and clay figurines. Anthropomorphic statuettes of clay were assembled from separately made body parts. The facial features, particularly the protruding eyes, are somewhat grotesque. The large number of fertility figurines, probably representing the "goddess mother," reflect a cult based on the life cycle. The finds from the Neolithic village of Sha’ar Hagolan are illustrative of new, previously unknown aspects of the Neolithic culture in Israel. Until these discoveries, the view prevailed that the Neolithic populations of the region were nomadic pastoralists who lived in temporary settlements of primitive, semi-subterranean huts. Sha’ar Hagolan was undoubtedly a permanent village with well-constructed houses and a large communal building. The excavations were directed by Y. Garfinkel on behalf of the Institute of Archeology of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Shechem (Nablus)

Shechem (Nablus) Name and Location Archaeological Expeditions to Shechem The History of Shechem Shechem in Theological Discussion Bibliography

1 Name and Location The Hebrew name is probably derived from the word for “back” or “shoulder” - an apt description of Shechem's location in the narrow valley between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal approximately 65 km North of Jerusalem (see Map 1). It was strategically located controlling major North-South and East-West roads, but lacked natural defenses and for that reason required heavy fortification. In addition to Jacob’s Well (400m to the South East) it is thought that the city derived its water supply via a conduit from a cave in Mt. Gerizim (Wright, 1965: 214-228), while the fertile plain of ‘Askar provided the city with food (Toombs, 1992: 11741175).

Map 1: Location Map of Shechem.

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Shechem (Nablus)

2 Archaeological Expeditions to Shechem Until 1903 the exact location of Shechem had been uncertain. The Jewish writer Josephus writing about AD 90 placed the city between Mts. Gerizim and Ebal (Antiquities, 4.8.44). Later the church historian Eusebius (c. 260 - c. 340 AD) and a pilgrim from Bordeaux (333 AD) placed it on the outskirts of Neapolis (modern Nablus) near Jacob’s Well. Jerome (345-420 AD) repeated Eusebius’ location, but elsewhere made it http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Shechem.html (2 of 11)2/11/2004 13:36:08

Shechem (Nablus)

clear that he doubted that Shechem was anything other than the predecessor of Neapolis. Modern scholarship followed Jerome until 1903 when a party of German scholars led by Prof. Hermann Thiersh quite by accident discovered the ruins of Shechem. Eusebius had been quite accurate: the site of Shechem, known as Tell Balatah was located East of Nablus beside the traditional site for the tomb of Joseph (Josh. 24:32) and near Jacob’s Well (John 4:5-6) (Wright, 1967: 355). Wishing to keep the excavation in German hands Thiersh did not make his discovery public and it was 1913 before the biblical scholar Ernst Sellin led the first expedition to begin excavation. Following the 1913-14 campaign the work was interrupted by the outbreak of war and it was 1928 before work recommenced, with further digs in 1932 and 1934. The results of these expeditions were often inadequately mapped and recorded and the interpretation of the finds is dubious. Although their work produced much useful data poor methodology and fieldwork as well as personal rivalry complicated later digs (Moorey, 1991: 64). In 1954 the American Drew-McCormick Expedition under George Ernest Wright started work on the site and continued in 1956-57, 1960 and 1962. The results of this work will be referred to below.

3 The History of Shechem Shechem’s strategic location and plentiful supplies of both food and water explain why it was occupied for thousands of years. The city is referred to many times both in biblical and extrabiblical records. These together with the extensive archaeological work that has been carried out enable us to trace with a fair degree of certainty the history of the city. 3.1 Before the Patriarchs. It is likely that Shechem was one of the oldest settlements in Canaan. The earliest written record comes from an inscription on the Stele of Khu-Sebek who was a noble in the court of Sesotris III (c. 1880-1840 BC). It reads: “his majesty reached a foreign country of which the name was skmm [Shechem]. Then skmm fell, together with the wretched Retunu [an Egyptian name for the inhabitants of Syro-Palestine].” An Egyptian execration text (a clay tablet on which curses are inscribed and then ceremonially broken) dating from the mid nineteenth century refers to one Ibish-hadad of Shechem, indicating that Shechem was an important centre of resistance against Egyptian rule (Toombs, 1992: 1179). 3.2 The days of the Patriarchs. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Shechem.html (3 of 11)2/11/2004 13:36:08

Shechem (Nablus)

3.2.1 Abraham. The first reference to Shechem in Scripture occurs in Genesis 12:6-8. This passage records how Abram travelled southwards through Canaan until he reached the great tree of Moreh at Shechem in the centre of the land. There the Lord appeared to him and in response he build an altar and offered sacrifices to the Lord. The oak or terebinth of Moreh was to feature significantly later in the Old Testament, but it is important to note that although the location may well have been a place of Canaanite worship Abram did not associate himself with that worship (Hamilton, 1990: 377). 3.2.2 Jacob. On his return from Paddam Aram Jacob settled for a time within sight of the city of Shechem and bought the second plot of land in Canaan (33:18-20; cf. 23:1-20). There Jacob set up an altar to God, the God of Israel (El Elohe Israel). While he and his family were encamped near the city, the son of one its leading citizens, Shechem son of Hamor, took Jacob’s daughter Dinah and raped her. Having found her to his liking he then persuaded his father to obtain Jacob’s consent to marry Dinah. Jacob’s son’s tricked Hamor into disabling all the men of the city by persuading them to be circumcised themselves on the pretence of removing a ceremonial obstacle to intermarriage. Simeon and Levi pressed home the advantage they had gained by putting the city to the sword and rescued Dinah, who was apparently being held in Shechem’s house (34:1-31). Jacob was troubled by the slaughter and feared for the lives of his family when the Canaanites heard about what had taken place. Having been commanded by the Lord to move to Bethel he purified his camp of all the foreign gods and buried them under the terebinth (35:1-5). 3.3 Conquest to Monarchy 3.2.1 Tribal allotment. Shechem was part of the tribal territory of Manasseh (Josh. 17:7). It was also both a city of refuge (20:7) and a Levite city, set aside for the Kohathite clan (21:20-21). 3.3.2 Covenant Renewals at Shechem. The book of Joshua records two covenant renewals carried out by Joshua (8:30-35; 24:1-27; cf. Deut. 27:11-13). Although the first does not mention Shechem by name, it is clearly implied by its location between the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal. There is no evidence either from scripture or archaeology that the Israelites conquered the city by force (Toombs, 1992; 1183-1184). This http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Shechem.html (4 of 11)2/11/2004 13:36:08

Shechem (Nablus)

fact has served to fuel a number of the recent theories of Israel’s origins (see 4 below), but does not mean that the original Canaanite inhabitants remained there during the conquest. It seems far more likely that the city was captured without a fight and that it was inhabited by Israelites. At the conclusion of the ceremony Joshua “...took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord” (Josh. 24:26 NIV), almost certainly outside the city were both Abraham and Jacob had sacrificed (3.2.1, 3.2.2). 3.3.3 Joseph’s Place of Burial. While he was in Egypt Joseph gave specific instructions regarding the arrangements for his burial (Gen. 50:2426). Joseph’s bones were removed from Egypt at the Exodus (Exod. 13:19) and buried in the tract of land that Jacob had bought (Josh. 24:32). 3.3.4 Abimelech & the Kingship. Following the death of Gideon Abimelech, the son of his Shechemite concubine (Judges 8:31) claimed the kingship that his father had refused (9:1-3: cf. 8:22-23). Having persuaded the citizens of Shechem to follow him he set about murdering all but one of his brothers (9:3-7). Jotham, the only surviving son of Gideon addressed the citizens of Shechem by way of a prophetic parable which foretold their destruction by fire (9:7-21). After three years the people of Shechem decided that they had had enough of Abimelech’s rule and attempted to make Gaal son of Eded their leader (9:22-30). Abimelech learnt of Gaal’s rebellion and attacked the city from the plain to the east as the people were going out to work in the fields (9:31-45). Once the city had fallen Abimelech turned his attention to the stronghold of the temple of Ba’al berith, where about a thousand of the city’s inhabitants had taken refuge. Rather than lay siege he set fire to the tower, killing the remaining citizens of the city (9:46-49). Abimelech himself was slain shortly afterwards attempting to repeat this procedure in the nearby city of Thebez (9:50-55). 3.4 Monarch to Exile 3.4.1 David’s Laments. Shechem is mentioned by David in two national laments attributed to him (Psalm 60:6-8=108:7-9). The verses cited remind the audience that it is the Lord who has measured and given the land; the people are only his tenants. He is also sovereign over the nations. 3.4.2 Jereboam’s Capital. Following the death of Solomon all Israel was summoned to Shechem to make Rehoboam his son king, probably because of its historic associations. Rehoboam’s foolishness resulted in the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Shechem.html (5 of 11)2/11/2004 13:36:08

Shechem (Nablus)

division of the kingdom with Jereboam son of Nebat ruling the ten northern tribes (2 Kings 12:1-17; 2 Chron. 10:1-17). Jeroboam initially chose Shechem as his new capital and fortified it against attacks from the South (1 Kings 12:25). The archaeological evidence for these fortifications is confused, but they appear to have taken the form of casemate walls (Toombs, 1992: 1184). The city lost much of its prestige when Jereboam moved his capital first to Peniel in the Transjordan (12:25) and then to Tirzah about seven miles to the North of Shechem (14:17) (see Map 1). Hosea refers to the depths the Northern Kingdom had descended to in graphic language when he speaks of bands of priests who murder those on the road to Shechem (6:9). Such activity was not unknown in the days before the monarchy (cf. Judges 9:25) and was facilitated by the narrow ravines through which the city was approached (Toombs, 1992: 1175). Shechem was a city of refuge and as such was supposed to be a place of safety. Ironically the situation in the land had degenerated so far that those fleeing the avenger of blood were in danger from the very people who were meant to protect them. 3.4.3 Destruction. Archaeological evidence suggests a destruction of the city during the reign of Menahem (2 Kings 15:13-16). In 724 the city fell again to the Assyrians and was reduced to a heap of ruins along with all the other cities of the Northern Kingdom (Toombs, 1992: 1185). 3.5 After the Exile. Shechem was all but abandoned after its fall to the Assyrians. That there were still some Israelites living there is evidenced by Jeremiah’s account of the ill-fated delegation from that city (41:4-7). After this time the city shows no sign of occupation for about 150 years. 3.5.1 A Samaritan City. The Assyrians settled exiled peoples from other nations in the Northern Kingdom. According to 2 Kings these peoples were taught how to worship the Lord in order to bring prevent attacks by lions, seen as divine judgement. However, the people simply added the worship of Yahweh to their own beliefs and worshipped both (2 Kings 17:24-34). During the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem the Samaritans sent messengers offering their help so that they might take part in the temple worship. The sharp rebuff they received led them to fiercely oppose the reconstruction and a long lasting hostility between the two peoples (Ezra 4:1-3; cf. Luke 9:52-53; John 4:9).

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Shechem (Nablus)

When Alexander the Great defeated the Persians he was initially supported by the Samaritans, who put 8 000 troops at his disposal in his campaign against Egypt. When Alexander left they attempted to free themselves from his rule: While Alexander was in Egypt, the Samaritans in Samaria revolted and killed the newly appointed governor, Andromachus. In retaliation Alexander destroyed the city of Samaria and established a garrison of 600 troops there. Many of the Samaritans fled to the foot of Mt. Gerizim and, with Alexander’s permission, built a temple to rival the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (Anderson, 1988:303-304). In 128 BC the Jewish leader John Hyrcanus (134-104 BC) levelled the temple on Mount Gerezim, adding to the long hatred between the two peoples. In 107 BC he captured Samaria and it is thought that the final destruction of Shechem also took place at this time. The defensive walls were buried so that the could no longer be used. The surviving population relocated to the nearby towns of Sychar and Neapolis (Anderson, 1988: 304; Wright, 1965: 183-184). 3.6 Shechem in the New Testament. The city of Shechem no longer existed in the time of Jesus, but it was referred to as a historic location. 3.6.1 Stephen’s Speech. Stephen’s speech as recorded by Luke in Acts 7:2-53 provides a review of the history of Israel from the time of Abraham. Verse 16 and its reference to Shechem has proved particularly difficult to explain. The problem arises because it apparently contradicts the text of Genesis by stating that Abraham, rather than Jacob bought the plot of land at Shechem from the sons of Hamor (Gen. 33:18-19; cf. 23:320). Commentators have suggested a number of explanations for this: a) Abraham was the original purchaser of the field and Jacob merely renewed the transaction as he did with the well Abraham’s servants had dug (Gen. 21:27-30; 26:28-31) (Archer, 1982: 379-380). This solution relies on an argument from silence as Genesis makes no mention of any land purchase at Shechem by Abraham. More importantly there is no reference to a tomb on the plot that Jacob bought. b) Jacob bought the site in Abraham’s name, so in effect Abraham bought the land (Stott, 1990: 134). c) Luke records Stephen’s speech accurately, a speech that contains a number of generalisations and conflations after the manner of popular Judaism of the period. Four similar difficulties of the same sort occur in verses 2-8 of the same chapter, indicating that Stephen was not intending http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Shechem.html (7 of 11)2/11/2004 13:36:08

Shechem (Nablus)

to be absolutely accurate in the details he presented (Longenecker, 1981: 340-341). This seems to be the best explanation of the passage.

4 Shechem in Theological Discussion The city of Shechem and its environs has formed an important theme in many of the reconstructions of Israel’s history produced this century. The theories differ widely, but all are sceptical of the accuracy of the Old Testament account as it has come down to us. 4.1 W.O.E. Oesterley & T.H. Robinson. Oesterley & Robinson, in common with many other liberal scholars this century, saw the patriarchal narratives as describing an animistic religion. Discussing Gen. 12:6-8 they point out that ‘the Oak of Moreh’ should be translated ‘terebinth of the teacher’, which, according to them, meant that it was a tree at which divine teaching was given. The tree was regarded as sacred. Abraham halts at it because he expects a divine manifestation there; and he is not disappointed… there is no room for doubt that we have here an instance of the development of the belief that spirits took up their abode in trees (Oesterley & Robinson, 1935: 22). When Gen. 35:4 describes Jacob burying the ‘foreign gods’ and ear-rings under the Shechem terebinth, Oesterley & Robinson see this as further evidence of the worship of trees. By burying the ‘gods’ under the oak they were placed under the power of the tree sanctuary of Jacob’s God and thus rendered harmless (Oesterley & Robinson,1935: 23). They also find evidence of animism in Gen. 35:8, where they link the name ‘Oak of weeping’, with the Canaanite practice of weeping for Tammuz (cf. Ezek.8:14) (Oesterley & Robinson,1935: 23-24). On Genesis 12:6-8 it should be noted that the oak or terebinth was a spreading tree much valued for its shade. In the same way shade trees (for example the Pipal tree in Nepal and the Banyan in India) are places of meeting or markets. It is therefore not surprising that Abraham chose this place to make his camp under one, or that Jacob found one a convenient spot for burying idols and ear-rings (35:4). Further evidence for this point can be seen in the fact that in other instances God appeared to Abraham in places unconnected with trees (Harrison, 1970: 386).

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4.2 Martin Noth (1902-1968). The city of Shechem plays an important role in Noth’s major work The History of Israel. Noth rejected the biblical account of the conquest and argued instead that Israel’s occupation of the land took place through a gradual process of infiltration (Noth, 1996: 6874). Noth suggested that the amphictyonies of Greece and Italy provided a model for understanding the emergence of Israel in Canaan. He noticed that these cultures provided examples of groups of tribes gathered around a central shrine and united by the worship of a common deity - an organisation known as an amphictyony (Noth, 1996: 87-88). From this loose association a more structured political union could develop. The shrine near Shechem was identified as the probable location of the Israelite’s first central shrine (Noth, 1996: 91-93). Noth’s proposal deeply influenced the study of Joshua and Judges for many years, but has now been largely abandoned because it demanded that the structure of Greek and Italian amphicytonies be read into the text and not out of them. In addition Noth’s theory that these amphictyonies developed into political structures has also been shown to be seriously flawed (Chambers, 1983: 44-48; Gottwald, 1979: 376-386). 4.3 Norman K. Gottwald. Gottwald held that Israel emerged from within the population of Canaan and not by invasion from outside of it. Shechem was viewed as a neutral Canaanite city which worshipped Ba’al-berith and not Yahweh. (Gottwald, 1979: 563-564). Ba’al-berith was worshipped at a sacred site inside the city and Yahweh at a tree outside the city (Gen. 12:6; 33:18b-20; 35:4; Deut. 11:30; Josh. 24:26; Judges 9:6, 37). This would explain the continued existence of a temple to Ba’al-berith in Shechem (Judges 9:4) which does not require the reintroduction of a Canaanite cult (Gottwald, 1979: 564). Joshua’s speech (Josh 24) is therefore seen as institution of Yahwism and not as a renewal of a pre-existing covenant. The Shechemites were among those who declined the adoption of the new faith (Gottwald, 1979: 567). An important part of Gottwald’s argument for the separation of the sites of worship is the absence of a sacred pillar inside the city of Shechem. However, archaeology has demonstrated that during the period 1450-1100 BC there was a standing stone inside the temple precinct in Shechem. Further, Gottwald ignores the reference to the temple of El-berith in Judges 9:46. It is far more likely that the name indicates the syncretistic worship that Israel had descended to (cf. Judges 8:33-35) rather than the existence of a separate Canaanite enclave (Campbell, 1983: 264-265).

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Bibliography Anderson, R.T. 1988. “Samaritan,” G.W. Bromiley, gen. ed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, revised, Vol. 4. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Archer, Gleason L. 1982. The Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Campbell, Edward F. 1983. “Judges 9 and Biblical Archaeology,” Carol L. Meyers & M. O’Connor, eds. The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman on His Sixtieth Birthday. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisebrauns. Chambers, Henry E. 1983. “Ancient Amphictyonies, Sic et Non,” William W. Hallo, James C. Moyer, Leo G. Perdue, Scripture in Context II: More Essays on the Comparative Method. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns: 39-59. Gottwald, Norman K. 1979. The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel 1250-1050 BCE. London: SCM Press. Hamilton, Victor P. 1990. “The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17,” The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Harrison, R.K. 1970. Introduction To The Old Testament. London: Tyndale Press. Longenecker, Richard N. 1981. “Acts,” F.E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Moorey, Roger 1991. A Century of Biblical Archaeology. Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press. Nicholson, Ernest W. 1998. God and His People: Covenant and Theology in the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Noth, Martin (1996) The History of Israel, 2nd edn. London: Xpress Reprints. Oesterley, W.O.E. & T.H. Robinson, 1935. Hebrew Religion. London: SPCK. Stott, J.R.W. 1990. “The Message of Acts,” The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester: IVP. Thompson, J.A. 1983. “Shechem,” E.M. Blaiklock, & R.K. Harrison, eds. The

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New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Toombs, Lawrence A. 1992. David Noel Freedman, Editor-in-Chief, Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 5. London: Doubleday. Wright, G. Ernest 1965. Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. Wright, G. Ernest 1967. “Shechem,” D. Winton Thomas, ed. Archaeology and Old Testament Study. Oxford: Clarendon Press: 355-370.

Source: Creationism nd the Early Church. © 1998 Robert I. Bradshaw. Reprinted by permission.

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The Synagogue at Capernaum

The Synagogue at Capernaum

"They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach." (Mark 1:21) The ruins of a great synagogue were first identified in 1866 during a survey by the British cartographer Captain Charles W. Wilson. Partially reconstructed in 1926, the dating of the Capernaum synagogue continues to be a matter of debate. What is certain is that the imposing ruin is not the synagogue referred to in the Gospel of Mark, though it seems to have been built on the site of an earlier 1st-century building. Built of imported white limestone on basalt stone foundations, the floor plan is similar to the 4th-century synagogue at Chorazim (Korazim, 4 km to the north), and the 3rd-century synagogue at Bar’am (in the northern Galilee), but the architectural ornamentation of the Capernaum building is far more elaborate, with Corinthian capitals and intricately carved stonework reliefs (vine and fig leaves, geometric designs, eagles, etc.). One relief carving of a cart may depict a portable Ark of the Covenant. Visitors are sometimes disconcerted by the fact that the architectural decoration also includes swastikas; but this was a common geometrical design of the period. A 4th-century Aramaic inscription on one of the broken columns records the name of the donor, "Halfu, son of http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/capesyn.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:36:11

The Synagogue at Capernaum

Zebida". These names in the Greek form (Alphaeus and Zebedee) are mentioned in the New Testament. The synagogue as it appeared in 381 was described by the Spanish pilgrim, the Lady Egeria, who reported that the way into the structure was up many steps, and that the building was made of dressed stone. The very grandeur of the Capernaum synagogue has contributed to the controversy concerning the actual dating of the building. Various theories have been proposed. Evidence for a 4th-century date is based in part on coins and pottery found beneath the floor. Proponents of an earlier 2nd-century date say these may have been left during later repairs and reconstruction, possibly following the earthquake of 363. Another possibility is that the synagogue was built during the short reign (361-363) of the Emperor Julian "the Apostate", which would also correspond with the date of the earthquake. The synagogue and the church at Capernaum were both destroyed in the early 7th century (sometime before the Arab conquest in 636). In light of the continuing tensions between the Christian and Jewish communities, it has been suggested that the church may have been destroyed during the Persian invasion of 614, and that the synagogue was destroyed 15 years later as an act of retaliation during the brief re-establishment of Byzantine rule. If so, it is appropriate that one of the first instances of modern "interfaith dialogue" between Christians and Jews took place in nearby Tiberias in 1942, in a series of discussions between the Rev. George L. B. Sloan, a minister of the Church of Scotland in Tiberias, and the Jewish writer and lecturer Dr. Shalom Ben-Chorin.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Tabgha: Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes

Tabgha: Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes

Christians of the early Byzantine period built monasteries, churches and shrines in Galilee and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee to commemorate the ministry of Jesus and the miracles ascribed to him. Tabgha – an Arabic corruption of the Greek name Heptapegon (Seven Springs) – is the traditional site of the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes. (Matt. 14: 13-21) It is situated in a narrow, fertile valley on the northern shore of the lake, watered by several springs. The earliest building at Tabgha was a small chapel (18 x 9.6 m) from the 4th century CE; only a part of its foundations was uncovered. This was probably the shrine described by the pilgrim Egeria at the end of the 4th century: In the same place (not far from Capernaum) facing the Sea of Galilee is a well watered land in which lush grasses grow, with numerous trees and palms. Nearby are seven springs which provide abundant water. In this fruitful garden Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. The stone upon which the Master placed the bread became an altar. The many pilgrims to the site broke off pieces of it as a cure for their ailments. During the fifth century, a large monastery and a church decorated with exquisite mosaic floors was built on the site. The complex covered an area of 56 x 33 m. and included courtyards and many rooms used as workshops for a variety of crafts as well as for lodging for the monks and the many

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Tabgha: Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes

pilgrims who came to visit. The monastery and church at Tabgha were destroyed in the 7th century, probably during the Arab conquest of the country, and buried beneath a thick layer of silt and stones. In the 1980s, after excavation, the church was restored to its Byzantine form, incorporating portions of the original mosaics.

The basilical church is divided by two rows of columns into a central hall and two aisles. In the eastern wall is a semi-circular apse and on either side of it, rooms for the officiating clergy. A raised platform in front of the apse is surrounded by a chancel screen and at its center an untrimmed stone was preserved under the altar. This is the traditional site of the miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes. A mosaic depicting a basket of bread flanked by two fish was found behind the untrimmed stone. It was added in the 6th century, suggesting the stone’s significance; today it is displayed in front of the altar. The church is famous for its mosaics, unique among Byzantine churches in the Holy Land. Most of the floor of the church is decorated in ordinary geometric patterns. The unique principal mosaics decorate both sides of the transept. Particularly well preserved is the one on the left of the platform, a square carpet (6.5 x 5.5 m.) bordered with a band of lotus flowers. The carpets are decorated with multi-colored representations of the local flora and fauna, interspersed with several buildings. The flowers and animals, mainly birds, are so naturalistically depicted that it is possible to identify lotus, oleander and lily; also duck, snipe, heron, goose, dove, swan, cormorant, flamingo and stork. A tower marked with bands bearing Greek letters, probably for measuring the water level of the Sea of Galilee http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Tabgha.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:36:14

Tabgha: Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes

(known as a "nilometer"), is also depicted. The church belongs to the Order of the Benedictines and is open to visitors. Today, as in Byzantine times, large numbers of pilgrims come to visit. In 1968 excavations were carried out by B. Bagatti and S. Loffreda on behalf of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. The 1979-1980 excavations were conducted by R. Rosenthal and M. Hershkovitz on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums (today, the Israel Antiquities Authority), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Tel Dor

Tel Dor

Throughout Biblical times, from the days of Solomon to the reign of Herod the Great, the harbor at Dor acted as a magnet, drawing commerce and conquerors to the Carmel coast. One of the few natural harbors on Israel's Mediterranean coast, Dor today is one of the country's largest archaeological sites and an important key to understanding the sequence of occupation during Biblical and later times. The coastal district of north central Israel, where Dor is located, is an attractive area. To the north of Pardes Hanna lie the Carmel range and the famed Carmel caves (where the excavation of settlements dating back to the Paleolithic Era has been in progress for over half a century). To the south stand the dramatic ruins of Caesarea, the formidable seaport constructed by Herod the Great. Numerous other sites of interest, such as Megiddo, also lie nearby, and Tel Aviv is only 50 kilometers away. Originally a Canaanite city, later ruled by a group of the Sea Peoples, Dor was conquered by David and became one of the 12 district capitals of Solomon, and his main port on the Mediterranean. In 732 B.C., Dor fell to the Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser III, but was at once made the capital of the Assyrian coastal province of Duru. The town also prospered under the Achaemenid Persians, at a time when both Greeks and Phoenicians also lived within the walled circuit of the city. In Hellenistic times Dora, as it was then called, became an important fortress, which later (under Roman rule), was still of sufficient size and importance to issue its own coinage. A Jewish community is known to have existed at Dor in the mid-first century A.D. and, despite the town's undoubted decline in the Byzantine period, it was still the seat of a bishopric from the fifth to the seventh centuries A.D. In the thirteenth century A.D. a Crusader castle was built on the site. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Tel_Dor.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:36:17

Tel Dor

For a site of unusual historical and archaeological appeal, Dor has received surprisingly little attention from archaeologists. Apart from limited excavations conducted by the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem some sixty-five years ago, Dor only began to be examined in earnest in 1980 when the Hebrew University of Jerusalem launched the program of excavations which the U.C. team joined during the 1985 field season.

The team's work at Dor focuses on the ancient citadel and its approaches (Area D1) and the Roman temples (Areas F and H). Previous work at Tel Dor has already revealed the huge stone gate of Solomon's city, cylinder seals from Assyrian times, numerous terracotta figurines from the Persian occupation, well preserved stone-walled houses from the Hellenistic period, and mosaic floors dating to Roman times. While in the short term the excavations at Tel Dor are designed to reveal past patterns of social and economic life at Dor itself, the long range goal is to contribute to a regional study of adjacent parts of the Sharon Plain, and in particular, of the Carmel coast.

Source: UC Berkeley and Santa Barbara Tel Dor Archaeological Expedition

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Tel Dor

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Tell en-Nabeh

Tell en-Nabeh by Jeffrey Zorn

Tell en-Nabeh, located 12 km north of Jerusalem on the southern outskirts of Ramallah, is identified with Biblical Mizpah of Benjamin (contra claims for Nebi Samwil where the archaeological remains do not match the historical data on the site). Approximately 75% of the site was excavated between 1926 and 1935 by William F. Badè of what is now Pacific School of Religion, making it the most broadly excavated settlement in ancient Israel. The earliest occupation on the tell (Stratum 5) dates to the Early Bronze I period, ca. 3100 BC. For the most part this is limited to a handful of cave tombs and their contents. However, the northwest corner of the site contained relatively high concentrations of EB I pottery, suggesting that any dwellings were located there. After a gap in occupation of almost 2000 years Tell en-Nabeh was preoccupied during the Iron I period, sometime between 1200-1100 BC. The structures associated with this Stratum 4 have largely disappeared. Such architecture as does survive is limited to subterranean features such as silos and some cisterns. Below ground storage facilities at many Iron I sites are one of the hall marks of the Israelite settlement process. Nabeh also produced collar rim storage jars and cooking pots typical of this era. Mizpah was the center of several confrontations with the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:5ff), so it is perhaps not surprising to find Philistine bi-chrome pottery there. What is interesting, however, is that this Philistine pottery was made from local clays. Either a Philistine potter was working in the

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Tell en-Nabeh

area, or the Israelites were copying this pottery for themselves. Stratum 3 is a typical Iron II (ca. 950-586 BC) hill country town covering 2.4 ha. The houses are arranged in concentric bands around the site, in a step like fashion which makes use of the natural terracing of the hill. At least one road, probably two in places, provide access around the interior of the town, supplemented by occasional cross roads. Most houses are of the three room variety; that is, two long rooms, with a single room across the back. Average size for such structures was ca. 65m2 The site contained about 200 dwellings, suggesting a population of 800-1000. Initially, in Stratum 3C (ca. 950 BC), the town had very limited fortifications, only the back rooms/walls of the houses around the perimeter of the town provided any form of defense. In Stratum 3B a massive fortification system was added just down slope of this town. This consisted of a wall averaging 4.5 m thick built in an inset-offset fashion. Large towers, often over 6.5 m thick, are located along the length of the wall. In particularly important places stone revetments and moats were added, giving this relatively small settlement defenses 14+ m across! An inner and outer gate system 70 m long and at least 30 m wide secured entry to the town. These defenses were no doubt added by King Asa of Judah in the early 9th c. to turn Mizpah into his northern bastion against attacks from the Kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 15:22). The importance of Nabeh as a northern fortress is also attested by the 86 royal LMLK stamps recovered; evidence of King Hezekiah's efforts to prepare for the Assyrian invasion of 701 B.C. Olive and grape presses were found either in the town, or immediately outside and provide information on some of the agricultural practices carried out at Tell en-Nabeh. The site also yielded a rich collection of artifactual remains, such as fertility figurines, bronze and iron utensils, ostraca, jewelry, weights and more. A small cemetery of Iron Age bench tombs was located just beyond the town limits, mainly to the west and north, providing information on Judahite burial practices. Stratum 3 was systematically dismantled and leveled to make room for a completely new architectural arrangement in Stratum 2, which belongs to the Babylonian-Persian periods and dates ca. 586-400 BC. The outer gate was also demolished to make room for additional housing. This is the zenith of Nabeh's development and corresponds well with the Biblical stories involving Mizpah in Jeremiah 40-41. The site contained at least six spacious four room house, almost double the size of the Stratum 3

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Tell en-Nabeh

dwellings. Not only are these structures larger, but they are better constructed than their predecessors. Important wall junctions contain stones of near ashlar quality, pillars are expertly crafted monoliths, more stone paved floors are in evidence. Most likely these are the homes of important officials in the administration of Gedaliah, the Judahite placed in charged of the ruined kingdom of Judah after the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Other large buildings dot the site. In the north central area was a spacious courtyard structure reminiscent of Mesopotamian style residences. A cluster of fragmentary walls and rooms in the southwest part of the site indicates the probable existence of storage and administrative facilities. West of the old inner gate was found a long stretch of wall which seems to mark an enclosure for unexcavated structures farther west. All of these structures are far larger than anything from Stratum 3 and are laid out with no consideration or reuse of the earlier buildings. The population probably numbered between 400-500 individuals. Artifactual remains are especially significant and add greatly to our understanding of Judah in the dark years following the Babylonian attack. Stamp impressions reading M(W)H signify resources probably sent from a royal estate at Mozah, just west of Jerusalem. Fortythree such impressions are known from an area roughly corresponding to the area of the tribe of Benjamin, a narrow strip of territory running just north of Jerusalem. Thirty of these impressions come from Nabeh. This shows not only that Nabeh was the key site in the distribution of jars stamped in this way, but also suggests the limited area Gedaliah could draw on for resources. One of the most striking artifacts is the seal of "Ja'azaniah, the Servant of the King." This seal is decorated with a rooster in a fighting stance and may belong to the very Ja'azaniah who was one of the officers who joined Gedaliah at Mizpah (2 Kings 25:23 and Jermiah 40:8) Objects connected with the Babylonian presence were also recovered. First are fragments of three Mesopotamian bath tub shape clay coffins. A bronze beaker, common in Mesopotamian burials, was found in the vicinity of one of the coffin fragments and possibly came from it originally. Next is a slender fragment of a bronze circlet bearing a dedicatory inscription in Babylonian cuneiform. An ostracon bearing a Babylonian name incised in Hebrew characters was found in a cistern. Finally, four so-called Skythian arrowheads may indicate the presence of Babylonian soldiers.

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Tell en-Nabeh

Storage jars and deep bowls decorated with impressed wedges and circles are very abundant at Tell en-Nabeh. Similar vessels are known primarily from the area of Judah. Some examples are also now known from Jordan and north Arabia, perhaps suggesting commere across this region. Greek pottery dating to the mid 6th to late 5th century BC was also found. These two groups of ceramics probably indicate the gradual revival of foreign trade in Judah as conditions gradually improved through the 6th c. Eighteen Yehud impressions attest to Mizpah's importance down into the Persian period, as suggested by Nehemiah 3. Stratum 1 is mixed material from several periods. Among the finds are a watch tower, grape press and pottery kilns which may be evidence for an agricultural estate at Mizpah in the Hellenistic-Roman periods. This may tie in with the brief reference to Mizpah in 1 Maccabees 3:46. All in all the material remains from Tell en-Nabeh are an extremely nice fit with the Biblical records pertaining to Mizpah of Benjamin. Zorn is Visiting Assistant Professor of Biblical History and Archaeology at Cornell.

Source: Prof. Zorn.

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Tel Qasile

Tel Qasile by Hillel Geva

Tel Qasile lies within the city limits of Tel Aviv, at the mouth of the Yarkon River. In antiquity, the river at the foot of the tel (mound) served as an inner harbor, protected from the waves of the Mediterranean Sea. The settlement itself was on a kurkar (a kind of sandstone) hill on the northern bank of the river and, in its heyday, covered some four acres. The first excavations at Tel Qasile were conducted from 1948 to 1950. Excavations were renewed between 1971 and 1974. The most significant remains include a Philistine residential quarter with a sacred area, dated to the beginning of the Iron Age (12th - 10th century BCE). The excavations provided evidence of continued settlement through the 10th century, when the area came under the control of the kings of Israel. Remains of settlement from the end of the Iron Age to the Early Arab period were also found.

The Residential Quarter Excavations in the southern part of the tel revealed three distinct Philistine settlement strata dating to the beginning of the Iron Age. Buildings of the lower Stratum (XII) were constructed directly on the kurkar ridge of the hill. Meagre remains from this stratum include depressions cut into the rock and some segments of walls and pavements. The first town, of Stratum XI, was surrounded by a strong brick wall, ca. 5 m. thick, remains of which were found on the western side of the tel. Next http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Qasile.html (1 of 5)2/11/2004 13:36:21

Tel Qasile

to a large building made of kurkar stones was a plaza, where two clay crucibles for melting copper were found. In Stratum X, dwellings were found throughout the excavated area, surrounded by streets. The houses were built next to one another in a line, and access to them was from the street only. They consisted of a side courtyard with two long rooms along its two sides. In some instances, a row of columns was placed in the courtyard, evidence that it was partly roofed. The rooms were used for living, working and storage, and the varied assemblages of Philistine, Canaanite, and Israelite pottery attest to the composition of the population in the 11th century BCE, where for the first time, iron implements came into use. This settlement was destroyed in a great conflagration.

The Philistine Cult Center On the eastern side of the tel a Philistine cult center was exposed, consisting of a series of temples constructed one upon the other, thus preserving the tradition of the sanctity of the place for some 200 years. The temples were built according to a common plan, and with the same construction techniques. The remains of the Philistine temples uncovered at Tel Qasile are of exceptional importance for the study of temple architecture and the Philistine cult at the end of the second millennium BCE. For the first time it is possible to observe the architectural and cultic connections between the Philistine and Canaanite temples here, and those in the Philistines' lands of origin - mainland Greece, Cyprus and the Aegean islands. But the identity of the deity to whom the temple at Tel Qasile was dedicated could not be established.

The First Temple, Stratum XII Temple excavation The first of the series of temples was found in Stratum XII. It was a small temple, consisting of a single room (6.6 x 6.4 m.) built of mudbrick with plaster-covered walls. The entrance to the building was in the center of the eastern wall and benches built of brick stood along some of the walls. Inside the room, opposite the entrance, was an elevated platform (bema) built of plastered brick. The cell behind it perhaps served as a repository for cultic objects. A broad courtyard, where remains of ash and bones http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Qasile.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:36:21

Tel Qasile

from sacrifices were found, extended east and north of the temple. Southeast of this courtyard was a public building with several rooms and a large hall with benches along its walls. In the hall was a raised, elliptical brick hearth, covered with potsherds and with a depression to contain the fire. Aegean parallels for this type of installation attest to the cultural origin of the Philistines who lived at Tel Qasile. The public building was clearly part of the Philistine administrative center. The pottery vessels found in this stratum are white-slipped with typically Philistine decoration.

The Second Temple, Stratum XI This temple was built on the ruins of its predecessor. Its area was enlarged to 8.5 x 7.7 m., and its 1 m.-thick walls were built of kurkar stones. The entrance was in the eastern wall. This structure consisted of a single room with built benches along its walls. The southwestern corner was separated by brick walls, creating a small room (2.8 x 1.5 m.), in which a variety of objects were found: primarily pottery vessels, but also a mask with a human face, a small duck-shaped ivory box and a pyramid-shaped shell that was probably used as a horn. In this stratum too, a broad courtyard extended north and east of the temple, in which a burial pit for cultic vessels (favissae) was found. Many of these were decorated with red and black Philistine motifs but there were also fragments of zoomorphic masks and a unique female-shaped vessel with breasts that were spouts for pouring liquid. A smaller temple (5.6 x 3.5 m.) was found west of this temple. Along the brick walls were benches and at the far end, opposite the entrance, was a small bema with two steps, built of plastered bricks. Leaning against the bema were three high ritual stands made of pottery: a cylindrical base painted in red with black designs, with perforated "windows", and on top a bowl with a bird's head. The public building south of the temple remained in use and another large building was erected next to it. In this stratum the pottery was typically Philistine, red-slipped with black decoration.

The Third Temple, Stratum X During this phase, the temple was enlarged (14.5x8 m.) incorporating the walls of the previous temple. The entrance was now on the northern side of the entrance room and a wide opening connected it with the main hall http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Qasile.html (3 of 5)2/11/2004 13:36:21

Tel Qasile

(heikhal) of the temple. Here, two columns (of Cedar of Lebanon), resting on stone bases, supported the roof. Along the walls was a double row of plastered benches. A partition wall created a small storage room along the western wall of the temple; against the partition wall stood a 90 cm.-high brick bema with two steps on each side. A wealth of artifacts was found near the bema and in the storage room of this temple, which was destroyed by fire. They include: a clay plaque in the form of a temple façade, with a pair of figures at the entrance; a cylindrical cultic stand perforated with windows; a cylindrical cultic stand on which a pair of lionesses support a bowl; and another cylindrical cultic stand decorated with a bird. Several libation vessels of pottery are of unique form: a kernos - a hollow ring-shaped vessel with figures atop it; a vessel shaped like a cluster of fruit; a zoomorphic vessel in the form of a hippopotamus; and two pomegranate-shaped vessels. Northeast of the temple was a courtyard enclosed by a stone wall. In this stratum too, a room was located at the northern edge of the courtyard, and opposite the entrance to the temple a square foundation was uncovered, apparently that of a sacrificial altar. North and west of the temple was yet another walled courtyard, with an opening towards the street going north. In a small room in the northern corner of this courtyard cooking facilities were uncovered, indicating that this was the kitchen of the temple complex. The small temple of the previous stratum, located west of the temple, continued to be used during this phase. South of the temple complex, part of a residential quarter built on the public building of the previous stratum was exposed. One of the dwellings, which was completely uncovered, measures 13.5 x 8.5 m. and is indicative of the type of dwelling at Tel Qasile during this period. It had a large courtyard with a row of five wooden columns on stone bases at its center, so that part of the courtyard was roofed while the rest was probably left unroofed. Of two square rooms built at the side of the courtyard, one was obviously used as a storeroom, as 80 ceramic storage jars were found in it; in the other room, household utensils were found.

The Period of the Kings of Israel The coastal region was annexed to the Kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Solomon. A public building (14 x 12 m.), probably the regional http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Qasile.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:36:21

Tel Qasile

administrative center, was built in the southern part of Tel Qasile. It included an entrance hall, several rooms south of it, and a staircase leading to a second story. This town was destroyed in the campaign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak (924 BCE) and the tel was abandoned until the end of the Iron Age. An ostracon with the ancient Hebrew inscription "Ophir gold to Beth Horon, 30 shekels" was found on the tel. This is a commercial document dealing with a shipment of 30 shekels of Ophir gold (fine quality gold or gold from a place called Ophir (see I Kings 9:28) to the town of Beth Horon (on the road from Tel Qasile to Jerusalem) or to an unknown temple dedicated to the Canaanite God Horon. Recent excavations were conducted under the direction of A. Mazar on behalf of the Land of Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Exploration Society Hillel Geva studied archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in excavations in the Jewish Quarter and the Citadel in Jerusalem, and is author of the entry "Jerusalem" in the New Encyclopedia of Archeological Excavations in the Holy Land and editor of Ancient Jerusalem Revealed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Tel Shilo

Tel Shilo

The city of Shilo held a central place in the history of the Jewish people. During the period between capturing the Land and building the Temple, thousands of years ago in the days when Joshua divided the land among the 12 tribes, the Tabernacle resided in Shilo. The location of the city was important, and until the death of Eli the High Priest, whose tomb is marked in Shilo, Shilo was the place of pilgrimage for the Children of Israel. Three times a year the faithful sojourned in Shilo to bring their festival offerings. Tel Shilo is an archeological site, located in the Ephraim hills of the Shomron where the spiritual life of the Jewish people was centered for 369 years in the 11th and 12th centuries B.C.E. In addition, there are artifacts from other periods, notably the end of the Second Temple (130 B. C.E. - 70 B.C.E.), the Byzantine period (350 -618), and the early Muslim period (638-900).

General Description The first archeological excavations began in the years 1922-1932 by a Danish expedition. The finds were placed in the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen. In 1980, Yisrael Finkelstein, an archeologist from Bar-Ilan University, initiated four seasons of digs and many finds were revealed including coins, storage jars, and other artifacts. Many are preserved at Bar-Ilan University. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Telshilo.html (1 of 6)2/11/2004 13:36:25

Tel Shilo

In 1981-1982, Zeev Yeivin and Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun dug out from the bedrock area of the presumed site of the Tabernacle. Ceramics and Egyptian figurines were found.

Discovered in the year 1927 On November 22, 1998, after weeks of excavations around the ancient building of Jama Ithi'im (remains of a Byzantine church), an enormous and well preserved mosaic floor was found. There are plans for the continuation of the excavation, include digging below the floor level to find more evidence of a synagogue.

Greek mosaic floor

Remains In this ancient home of the Tabernacle can be found remains of thousands year old wine and olive oil presses. The ancient city is encompassed by impressively large city walls, including remains of the city gates and watch towers. Upon approaching the city along the marked path, one can http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Telshilo.html (2 of 6)2/11/2004 13:36:25

Tel Shilo

see that the homes were built along identical lines, including storehouses for food and cisterns for rainwater storage. The archeological digs in Tel Shilo revealed large clay jars that still held remains of raisins, scorched during the destruction and torching of the city of antiquity. Closer to the Tabernacle site are underground caves and warrens that tranverse the Tel, including cisterns and bathing pools.

Synagogue from the Talmudic period

The Cave of Abraham On the north-western edge of Tel Shilo, near the location of the Tabernacle, is a unique cave, which was an ancient dwelling place. Additional caves, cisterns and underground warrens branch off from this cave. Inside the cave, on the western wall, can be seen niches for oil lamps or candles. To the west of the cave, near the entrance, there is a ritual bath (mikvah) with six descending steps, as is described the tractate Mikvaot. This place served the priests and Levites who came to the Tabernacle to perform their services — before approaching the Tabernacle compound they purified themselves in the nearby pool. The underground warrens lead to other parts of the Tel.

City Gates of Ancient Shilo Ancient Shilo's city gates have been identified in the southern side of Tel Shilo. Ancient Shilo was built by the Canaanites who had dwelt in the land; the city was captured by Joshua Bin Nun approximately 3500 years ago. The southern approach to the city was on a gradual rise, with easy http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Telshilo.html (3 of 6)2/11/2004 13:36:25

Tel Shilo

access. In the other directions were steep, rocky cliffs, making the city easier to defend. In 1985, the Tel underwent an archeological expedition headed by professor Yisrael Finkelstein, which uncovered the ancient city's guard towers; a Canaanite wall, impressive in its size and beauty; remains of stone houses; and more. In some places the immense width of the city wall can be seen to reach 5.5 meters. The city covered an area of 17 dunam-walking through the city's ruins is fascinating. To the east of the Tel are discernable a well- preserved ampitheatre and the burial grounds of ancient Shilo.

Synagogue of the Dome of the Divine Presence The synagogue of the Dome of the Divine presence is located south of the Tel Shilo site on a knoll, from which one can view all of the Shilo valley, the road to Jerusalem, and the mountain chain of Ba'al Hatzor. Rabbi Ashtori Hafarchi reached the site in 1335 and found the building mostly intact. The synagogue is built in the same fashion as those in the Galilee from the Talmudic period. All have three entrances in the northern wall; in the southern wall is a niche for the Holy Ark, facing Jerusalem. In the center of the building can be seen remains of the columns that supported the roof. The outer walls slope inward and reach a height of two meters, giving the building an appearance similar to the Tent of Assembly. Around the entrance are embellishments unique to Jewish buildings, such as olive branches and urns.

Burial site of Eli the High Priest and the Synagogue of Hannah's prayer On the Southern side of Tel Shilo is a building of stones from several time periods. Rabbi Ashtori Hafarchi in his book Kaftor V'ferach tells of http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Telshilo.html (4 of 6)2/11/2004 13:36:25

Tel Shilo

passing by and seeing a group of Jews kneeling and praying by a stone weeping and praying. Upon his inquiring, they answered him that this was the burial place of Eli the High Priest. Some hundred years later, the archeologist Dalman in his writings identified the same spot as Eli's burial location. On the Western side of the building grows an ancient fig tree, which is identified as the Shilo fig tree mentioned in the Bible. Upon ascending to the roof top of the synagogue building we see that a venerable oak tree is growing right through the roof. This tree is the only one of it's kind growing in this area, as is mentioned in the end of the book of Joshua as a symbol of the covenant reached between G-d and the children of Israel at the place of the Tabernacle. Inside the synagogue, in the southern wall, facing Jerusalem, is a niche, which was used as a Holy Ark to hold Torah scrolls. The building is also known as " The synagogue of Hannah's prayer," in accordance with what is told in Samuel I Chapter 2, verse 1 "And Hannah prayed, saying my heart rejoices in the Lord, my horn is exhalted in the Lord, my mouth is enlarged over my enemies, because I rejoice in thy Salvation."

The Tabernacle Location-the Northern Plateau In the book of Joshua, chapter 18 verse 1 it states: " The whole congregation of the Children of Israel assembled together at Shilo and erected there the Tent of Assembly, and the land was conquered before them. The tent of assembly mentioned in the verse is the traveling sanctuary of the desert described in Exodus. The principles used to identify the location of the Tabernacle in Shilo are: A. the dimensions of the Tabernacle and its surrounding courtyard B. the direction of the Tabernacle C. natural defendability against enemies The first two principles are archetectural rules governing the character of a public building such as the Tabernacle. It is logical to assume that initially the Tent of Assembly was housed in a transient sanctuary, as it had been during the desert years. The Tabernacle was located in Shilo for 369 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Telshilo.html (5 of 6)2/11/2004 13:36:25

Tel Shilo

years. According to the Talmud (Zevahim 119,) during the course of the years, a more permanent structure was erected to house the Tabernacle in Shilo. In the Mishna (Zevahim 14) it states: " And in Shilo there was no roof, but a building of stone below and cloth above, and it was a resting place." In 1873 the explorer Wilson suggested the northern plateau of Tel Shilo as the possible site of the Tabernacle. In aerial photographs it is clear that there is an area north of the Tel that was hewn for some specific purpose. According to Wilson's measurements, the plateau is 77 feet long, i.e. 235 meters. Therefore, this location fits that all three requirements for identifying the site as that of the Tabernacle, dimensions, direction and naturally defendable. There is great topographical similarity between this location and the location of the Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. both are enclosed by steep descents into valleys, with high hills surrounding the valleys; the southern approach is more gradual. The Temple is not on the summit of the mountain, but is beyond the summit, northward, at a lower point, in accordance with the words in Leviticus exhorting, "And you shall not go according to the practices of the nations, which I cast out before you". The other nations placed there altars on the highest mountain tops. The children of Israel's custom was different, as is seen in Samuel II, chapter 24, when King David's prophet, Gad tells the King, "Go up, erect an alter to the Lord on the threshing floor of Arniya the Jehusite." From a national, religious viewpoint, there is no doubt that the identifying of the location of the Tabernacle in Shilo is of paramount importance, strengthening the Jewish people's bond with their past.

Source: Shilo

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Tiberias: The Anchor Church

Tiberias: The Anchor Church

The city of Tiberias is located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. In the sixth century, at the peak of its expansion, the Byzantine emperor Justinian built a wall around the city which climbed up the steep slopes in the west and included the highest point, Mount Berenice. Here the remains of a Byzantine church with unusual cultic objects were uncovered in the years 1990-93. The church was included within the fortification wall of the city and its location affords a breathtaking view of the entire Sea of Galilee, its shores and the distant mountains. The church complex measures 48 x 28 meters and includes an atrium courtyard, a basilical, tri-apsidal church and many rooms around the complex. The walls are of square basalt blocks coated with white plaster and the floor is paved with multi-colored mosaics. The atrium courtyard is unusually spacious. It was surrounded by aisles resting upon square piers and was paved with mosaics in black and white frames. Beneath it is a large cistern, the ceiling of which is supported by a set of arches. Rainwater was collected from the roofs and from the courtyard and carried to the cistern via channels. Running the length of the prayer-hall of the church were two rows of columns supporting the roofing. Two rows of semi-circular stone benches were situated along the central apse in the eastern wall. The floor of the church was in part paved with colored mosaics, depicting grapes, pomegranates and birds, and in part with marble tiles in geometric shapes. At the center of the bema (stage) the base of a stone altar was found, and beneath it a marble plaque covering a depression containing a large, carehttp://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Anchor.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:36:27

Tiberias: The Anchor Church

fully fashioned basalt stone measuring 55 x 35 x 11 cm. The bottom part of the stone is crudely worked into a conical shape, indicating that it was originally set into the ground. At the center of the stone is a drilled, biconical perforation; it is obviously a type of anchor, a smaller version of which might have been used by boats sailing the Sea of Galilee. It was placed here, and probably venerated in connection with Jesus’ activities on this side of the lake. Surrounding the courtyard and the church were numerous rooms, with mosaic paving, which must have served the clergy who maintained the church and looked after the many visitors. The church was damaged in the earthquake of 749. It was renovated on a smaller scale and had some Islamic architectural features, such as pointed arches and pairs of columns supporting them. This church, with only minor changes, remained in use during the Muslim rule of the country, a very uncommon phenomenon. The Crusaders strengthened the church structure with external buttresses and also added a bell tower to its facade. The church was destroyed when the Muslims conquered Tiberias in 1187. Its remains were visible on the surface prior to the excavations and had remained relatively well-preserved thanks to the difficult access and the distance from the city of Tiberias. The excavations were directed by Y. Hirschfeld on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines

Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines

"A land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper." Deuteronomy 8:9

The Timna Valley is located in the southwestern Arava, some 30 km. north of the Gulf of Eilat. It is a semi-circular, erosional formation of some 70 sq. km., opening in the east towards the Arava; on the north, west and south it is surrounded by cliffs, about 300 m. high. In the lower parts of these cliffs and on the slopes in front of them, copper-rich nodules (up to 55% copper) mainly of malachite and chalcocite, were mined in ancient times. Ever since man discovered, in the 6th millennium BCE, how to turn a `piece of rock' into malleable metal, copper has been mined and smelted in the Timna Valley - even in modern times, by the Israeli Timna Mining Company, which is no longer in production. Extensive remains of human activity during early periods are still visible in the rugged hills. There is evidence of copper mining in shafts and galleries and copper smelting in furnaces of various types, and there are remains of camps and several cult sites, including an Egyptian mining sanctuary. The existence of the remains of copper production at Timna was known from surveys conducted at the end of last century, but scientific attention and public interest was aroused when in the 1930s Nelson Glueck attributed the copper mining at Timna to King Solomon (10th century

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Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines

BCE) and named the site "King Solomon's Mines"; this theory has not been verified by subsequent field work. Surveys and excavations in the Timna Valley were conducted between 1959 and 1990. From the surprising findings it is now possible to reconstruct the long and complex history of copper production there, from the Late Neolithic period to the Middle Ages. Mining activities in the Timna Valley reached a peak during the reign of the Pharaohs of the 14th12th centuries BCE, when Egyptian mining expeditions, in collaboration with Midianites and local Amalekites, turned the Timna Valley into a large-scale copper industry.

Copper mining After an initial phase of surface collection of ore nodules in prehistoric times, the early miners followed outcropping ore veins underground. These earliest shafts, hammered into the rock with large and clumsy stone tools, were irregular big holes from which galleries spread in all directions, following the ore. The Egyptian miners who came later used metal chisels and hoes and excavated very regular, tubular shafts, with footholds in the walls for moving down, and up, the shafts. Some of these shafts penetrated to a depth of 30 m. and more, before reaching the copper-rich sandstone formation. From the shafts, narrow galleries followed the ore occurrence, widening into underground cavities where large bodies of ore nodules had to be mined out. As the complex network of galleries grew, heavy loads of ore had to be dragged along the narrow galleries, to be hauled to the surface. These sophisticated multi-leveled shaft-and-gallery mines, with proper underground ventilation, are the earliest systematic mines of this kind discovered to date. Mining was abandoned when the concentration of ore nodules declined. The abandoned shafts and galleries were either intentionally filled with mining waste, or gradually filled up with wind- and water-carried sand. Evidence of their existence is visible today in saucer-like “plates” — thousands of them — on the slopes below the Timna Cliffs.

Copper production The earliest, well-preserved copper smelting furnace dates from the 5th millennium BCE. It consisted of a small pit dug in the ground, with a low http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/timna.html (2 of 5)2/11/2004 13:36:29

Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines

substructure of field stones, and was ventilated by goatskin bellows. Smelting in these pits was primitive and inefficient. During the following three millennia, copper was produced with steadily improving furnaces and control of the metallurgical processes. Already in the Chalcolithic period (4th millennium BCE), iron ore (available in Timna) was added as flux to the smelting charge of copper ore and charcoal, which greatly improved the smelting. Another big step forward, in the early third millennium BCE, was "tapping" the fluid slag out of the hot furnace, which made continuous smelting possible and saved precious fuel. The metallic copper produced by this process remained at the bottom of the furnace as an irregular ingot — probably the earliest copper ingot in history. There is no evidence of mining or smelting in Timna from the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE until the late 2nd millennium BCE, when Egyptian mining expeditions arrived. There are the ruins of numerous work camps, mainly workshops for copper smelting. One of the larger (400 sq.m.) camps was excavated; in its central courtyard, a stone-lined storage pit contained copper ore nodules to be crushed on a nearby stone platform. A variety of grinding tools, such as granite hammers, mortars and pestles, anvils and "saddle-backed" sandstone querns were found on this platform. Near the smelting furnaces, at a distance from the workshops, slag heaps, charcoal pits, tuyères, stone tools and potsherds were found. In the 14th century BCE, during the Egyptian-Midianite copper production at Timna, a very advanced smelting furnace, consisting of a bowl-shaped smelting hearth dug into the ground and lined with clay mortar, was in use. It was about 40 cm. in diameter and up to 50 cm. high. Some of the furnaces had a dome-shaped top. In front of the smelting hearth was a shallow pit, flanked by two large stones, which served as the slag tapping pit. A clay tube penetrated the furnace wall opposite the tapping hole and served as a tuyère through which air was blown by potbellows. For each furnace three bellows were needed and the smelting area was littered with hundreds of tuyère fragments.

The Hathor Temple At the foot of the huge sandstone formation in the center of the Timna Valley known as "King Solomon's Pillars," a small Egyptian temple was excavated. Dedicated to Hathor, Egyptian goddess of mining, it was

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Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines

founded during the reign of Pharaoh Seti I (1318-1304 BCE) and served the members of the Egyptian mining expeditions and also their local coworkers. The sanctuary consisted of an open courtyard measuring 9 x 6 m., with a naos (cult chamber), where a niche had been cut into the rock, apparently to house a statue of Hathor. The temple was badly damaged by earthquake and rebuilt during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II (1304-1237 BCE), with an enlarged courtyard (10 x 9 m.) and a new, solid white floor. The walls were made of local sandstone and granite but the facade was of white sandstone from the mining area. The temple, with its two square columns bearing Hathor heads, must have been an exciting sight in the light of the rising sun. In the temple courtyard there was a workshop for casting copper figurines as votive offerings. Among the finds in this temple were hieroglyphic inscriptions including cartouches (seals) of most of the pharaohs who reigned in the 14th-12th centuries BCE. There were also numerous other Egyptian-made votive offerings, including many copper objects, alabaster vessels, cat and leopard figurines of faience, seals, beads and scarabs as well as Hathor sculptures, figurines and plaques. Altogether several thousand artifacts were uncovered in the Egyptian temple. With the decline of Egyptian control of the region in the middle of the 12th century BCE, the mines at Timna and the Hathor temple were abandoned. However, cultic activities in the temple were restored by the Midianites, who remained in Timna for a short period after the Egyptians left. They cleared most traces of the Egyptian cult and effaced the images of Hathor and the Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions on the stelae. Other changes were made: a row of mazeboth (stelae), was erected and a 'bench of offerings' was built on both sides of the entrance. Remains of woolen cloth found along the courtyard walls provide evidence that the Midianites turned the Egyptian temple into a tented desert shrine. Among the finds in this Midianite shrine was a large number of votive gifts brought especially from Midian, including beautifully decorated Midianite pottery and metal jewelry. Of particular significance is the find of a copper snake with gilded head. It is reminiscent of the copper serpent described in Numbers 21:6-9. The evidence of a sophisticated Midianite culture, as found in Timna, is of extraordinary importance in the light of the Biblical narrative of the meeting of Moses and Jethro, high priest of Midian, and the latter's participation in the organization and cult of the Children of Israel in the desert. (Exodus 18)

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Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines

The survey and excavations at Timna were conducted by B. Rotenberg, on behalf of the `Arava Expedition' under the auspices of the Ha'aretz Museum of Tel Aviv, the Institute of Archeology, Tel Aviv University and (since 1974) the Institute for Archeo-Metallurgical Studies of University College, London.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Top Archaeological Discoveries in Israel

Top Archaeological Discoveries in Israel

The Tel Dan ("House of David") Stele Discovered at Tel Dan in 1993-94, the inscription dates to the 9th century BCE and commemorates the defeat of a coalition led by Jehoram, king of Israel, and Ahaz, king of the House of David (Judah) by the Arameans. It's important as the first mention of David outside the Bible.

The Ekron Inscription An inscribed stone found in 1996 at Tel Miqne (Ekron of the Bible) is a temple dedication in Hebrew left by a late Philistine ruler, Ikausu (the Biblical Achish), in the 7th century BCE, when the Assyrians ruled Palestine. It reveals previously unknown Philistine adoption of Hebrew script.

The Canaanite Palace of Hazor The palace, currently being excavated, dates back to the Late Bronze Age (circa 1400-1300 BCE). This magnificent edifice was destroyed in a great conflagration, probably by the Israelites. Found in the debris: stone and metal statues, ivory and metal implements and clay tablets from the Canaanite kingdom of Hazor.

Jerusalem Excavations The large excavations near the Western Wall and the Temple Mount

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Top Archaeological Discoveries in Israel

complex begun after the Six-Day War have dramatically expanded understanding of Jerusalem's history.

Masada Excavations, started by Yigal Yadin in 1963, gradually unveiled the dramatic confrontation at Masada between a Roman legion and Jewish freedom fighters in a Herodian fortress at the time of the Second Temple (73 CE).

Phoenician Shipwrecks Two almost intact Phoenician shipwrecks from the 7th or 8th century BCE were found in the summer of 1999 on the ocean floor off the Israeli coast. It is hoped their contents will increase knowledge about maritime trade and seamanship in the late Iron Age.

Source: Jerusalem Report, (Oct. 11, 1999)

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Underwater Exploration Along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast

Underwater Exploration Along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast

Along the Mediterranean coast of the Land of Israel there has always been maritime activity, both of a commercial and a military nature. Evidence of this is provided by the many shipwrecks lying on the floor of the sea near the coast. Israel’s coastline lacks deep natural harbors and the small craft of ancient times had to find shelter from storms in the mouths of rivers. As early as the first millennium BCE, the capacity of ships plying the Mediterranean had increased considerably, necessitating the construction of deep-water ports for safe anchorage. Since the 1960s, extensive underwater surveys and excavations have been conducted along the coast of Israel, with the aim of exposing remains of harbors, shipwrecks and cargoes.

Atlit – A Submerged Neolithic Village Atlit, some 15 kms. south of Haifa, is known for the ruins of a Crusader castle. In the Neolithic period, the level of the Mediterranean was some 20 m. lower than it is today, and the coastal plain was much wider. Some 400 m. off today’s shore, at a depth of eight to twelve meters, an 8,000-year-old Neolithic village was discovered under a layer of sand carried there by waves and currents, with its dwellings and artifacts well preserved.

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Underwater Exploration Along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast

Twelve structures with paved courtyards and plazas between them were excavated. At the edge of the village was a long brick wall, probably for protection against winter floods which filled the nearby wadi (dry river bed). A 5.5 m.-deep well cut into the sandstone, its upper part lined with stones, provided water for the village. Bronze was not yet in use during this period, and this is the earliest example of a well dug with axes and hammers of stone. Between the village houses were several stone-lined pits, two to three meters in diameter; they were silos for the storage of food. Fifteen tombs, some within the houses, were also found. Many flint and bone artifacts were salvaged from the seabed, as well as stone bowls used in this pre-pottery period. Animal bones found indicate that the village’s economy was based on farming and incipient herding, hunting and fishing. Glacial melting following the last ice age caused the sea level to rise, reducing the area of the coastal plain along the Mediterranean. Seepage of seawater into the wells was probably the cause for the abandonment of the village – which then became submerged.

Atlit – The Phoenician Harbor The sunken foundations of this Phoenician harbor (dated to the 7th-6th centuries BCE) are believed to be those of the earliest known port with built breakwaters. The breakwaters were built of straight walls enclosing a natural bay. The foundations consist of large ashlar blocks laid on the rock of the seabed and along a small islet offshore. A wall which included a gate separated the harbor from the city. The cargoes of several vessels were found at the bottom of the harbor and around it. Among them are stone anchors and large amphorae used for transporting wine from the Greek islands.

Atlit – The Ram of an Ancient Warship The ram of a Hellenistic naval vessel was discovered in the northern bay of Atlit, at a depth of four meters. It is cast of bronze, is 2.26 meters long and weighs almost half a ton. Encased in its rear are the bow timbers of the ship to which it was attached. The front has three protruding horizontal fins, a development from the earlier, pointed ram; this improved its ability to “ram” the enemy’s hull.

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Underwater Exploration Along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast

The ram is decorated with mythological symbols known from Greek iconography: the eagle (on each side); the trident or thunderbolt; a helm surmounted by the eight-pointed star of the Dioskouri, the protectors of seafarers; and the caduceus or kerkeion, symbol of Hermes. These symbols provide clues regarding the provenance and date of the ship: it is believed to have been built in Cyprus for King Ptolemy VI (204-184 BCE).

Caesarea Maritima The large deep-water port built by Herod the Great at Ceasarea Maritima is described in detail by Josephus Flavius. (The Jewish War I, 408-415) The harbor consisted of three consecutive basins and its construction was completed around the year 10 BCE. The survey and undersea excavations conducted there revealed a high level of engineering technology at this oldest known example of sophisticated harbor construction, as well as indepth knowledge of underwater currents and the movement of sand. The large, outer basin of the harbor was created by constructing two breakwaters enclosing a large area of open sea. Later, as a result of tectonic activity, the foundations of this large, outer harbor sank into the seabed. An arc-shaped breakwater, some 500 m. long, was built along the southern and western sides of the harbor. In the north, a shorter breakwater of about 180 m. length was built westward, at right angles to the shore. Parts of the breakwaters consisted of large ashlar blocks, weighing several tons each, laid as headers on the seabed. Other portions were constructed of enormous chunks of conglomerate cast of hydraulic cement and stone in wooden frames, sunken to the seabed. The long breakwater was 40 - 60 m. wide, on which service and storage facilities were built. Its narrow, inner portion facing the harbor served as a pier for loading and unloading. At the northern end of the long breakwater are the foundations of a structure built of particularly large blocks and preserved almost to the water level. These are probably the remains of the huge lighthouse “Drusion” that stood at the entrance to the harbor, referred to by Josephus. The middle basin of the harbor was smaller (220 x 200 m.) and followed the contours of a natural bay. Its quays, 4.5 m. wide, were constructed of ashlar blocks. In its southern part the remains of the Crusader port-fortress and the modern fishermen’s quay stand today.

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Underwater Exploration Along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast

The inner basin was the smallest, surrounded by the city on three sides. It had been in use in the Hellenistic period, was developed by Herod the Great and became obsolete in the Byzantine period, as a result of continuous silting.

The Harbor of Akko (Acre) The ancient harbor of Akko was located where the modern fishing harbor is situated today, south of the promontory on which the Old City is built. The earliest man-made construction dates to the Persian period (6th-5th centuries BCE). At that time, a breakwater was built running east to west and enclosing a basin of about 100 dunams (one dunam = 1/4 acre) which offered sea anchor-age and port facilities to the growing number of merchantmen. The breakwater was 260 m. long and 12 m. wide, built of large ashlar blocks laid as headers on a layer of pebbles and shells. During the Roman period, the breakwater was rebuilt with enormous blocks, measuring 12 x 2 x 2 meters, placed about one meter apart. At the entrance to the harbor, some 70 m. east of the end of the breakwater, stands the Tower of Flies (also called Manara, “light house”). The ancient construction, broadening the natural underwater rock outcrop, is still visible at its base.

The Shipwreck at Ma’agan Michael A seagoing ship of the Persian period was discovered 70 m. off the coast at Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael. Covered with a heavy layer of sand, the hull was exceptionally well preserved from stem to stern and almost up to the waterline. It was built of pine timber with mortise and tenon joining, using the “shell first” mode of construction. Its bow and stern strengthened with fiber lashings, the frames were then installed to support the structure. Also well preserved was the ship’s keel which was made of a single beam. The vessel was originally 13.5 m. long, with a four-meter beam and a displacement of 25 tons. A unique, one-armed wooden anchor was found intact at the side of the bow. Among the contents of the vessel were a set of carpenter’s tools, several large storage jars, ceramic utensils, ropes and remnants of food, as well as a heavy load of ballast stones. On a commercial voyage, the ship probably foundered and was abandoned.

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Underwater Exploration Along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast

The Wreck with Figurines Scattered along the submerged kurkar ridge off the coast of Shavei Zion, a village north of Akko, hundreds of clay figurines were found by a diverfisherman in 1974. The ship carrying this load of votive terra-cotta figurines must have sunk en route to one of the coastal sanctuaries. The figurines, produced in molds ranging in size from 10 to 30 cm., represent the Goddess Tinit, chief of the Punic pantheon. Her sign, composed of a triangle with a superimposed horizontal bar and a disk, is clearly visible on some of the figurines’ pedestals. The figurines were dated to the 5th century BCE. The presence of such an assembly of figurines of the Goddess Tinit on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean calls attention to cultural and historical issues regarding the relationship between the Phoenician metropoli and their colonies during the 5th century BCE.

Weapons Abandoned by Napoleon’s Army A cannon, a mortar and some smaller weapons dumped in the sea by Napoleon’s army on its southward retreat from Acre (Akko) in May 1799, were found off the coast of Dor (north of Ma’agan Michael). The Turkishmade bronze cannon is 1.60 m. long; it was taken as booty by Napoleon’s army on its way northwards to Akko. The mortar poses a riddle: Manufactured in Seville, Spain in 1793 (it is so inscribed), it is 6 inches in diameter and weighs 333 kg. But how did it become part of Napoleon’s weaponry? The underwater surveys and excavations were carried out by the Department of Maritime Civilizations of Haifa University, the Israel Undersea Exploration Society and the Israel Antiquities Authority, under the direction of: E. Galili (the Neolithic village); E. Linder and A. Raban (Atlit Harbor); A. Raban (Port of Caesarea); E. Linder (Harbor of Akko, the ram, the Ma’agan Michael shipwreck and the finds from Shavei Zion); S. Wachsman and K. Raveh (the Napoleonic artillery)

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Yodefat

Yodefat

Ancient Yodefat is located in central Galilee, on a hill rising to 419 m. above sea level. Deep valleys surround the hill on all sides except the north, where a low saddle separates it from the rest of the mountain range. In rabbinic sources, Yodefat is described as a fortress dating from the time of Joshua; it was among the towns captured by Tiglath Pileser III in 732 BCE. In the Second Temple period Yodefat was an important Jewish town, mentioned in the Mishna and the Talmud (Jewish Oral Law). Its geographical position is precisely as described by the 1st century historian Josephus Flavius. (Wars III, 7,7) Between 1992 and 1998, seven excavation seasons were conducted in the remains of Yodefat. Fortifications and buildings of the Hellenistic and Roman periods and clear evidence of the town's destruction during the Jewish revolt against Rome were uncovered.

The Fortifications A small village was built on the top of the hill of Yodefat during the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd centuries BCE). In the 1st century BCE, under Hasmonean rule, the crest of the hill was surrounded by a wall, whilst the northern side, devoid of natural defenses, was fortified by a 5.5 m. thick double wall, strengthened with massive towers. During the Early Roman period (end of the 1st century BCE - beginning of the 1st century CE), a new town wall was constructed on the southern part of the hill, expanding the town's area to some 13 acres.

The Residential Quarters http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Yodefat.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:36:35

Yodefat

Densely built-up residential areas, some with narrow lanes along the town's wall, were constructed in the early Roman Period. The houses were built on terraces, their backs cut into the rock of the hillside; where this was steep, the rooms were built as "steps", each up to half a meter higher than the previous room. The dwellers of these quarters had to rely on rockcut cisterns for their water supply since there is no nearby spring, yet in some of the houses, mikva'ot (Jewish ritual baths) were found. In the southern part of the town a number of pottery kilns were uncovered, and dozens of clay loom weights were found in the ruins of one of the houses, indicating that weaving took place there. The remains of a large mansion near the top of the town, some of its rooms decorated with frescos painted in geometric patterns and as imitation marble, are evidence of some wealth.

The Destruction of Yodefat Yosef ben Matityahu (the contemporary historian who called himself Josephus Flavius) was born of a priestly family; he was appointed commander of the Galilee at the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 CE and undertook the fortification of several towns, the key fortress being Yodefat. In 67 CE, the Roman army under Vespasian (who was soon to become Emperor of Rome) besieged the city, which held out for 47 days. Josephus himself describes the siege, the suicide pact of the last defenders and his own surrender to the Romans. (Wars III, 7) Remains of the Roman siege ramp were found in the northern part of the town. Evidence of the battle that took place here includes dozens of iron arrowheads, ballista stones and heavy rolling stones. The skeletons of some 30 men, women and children in a water cistern, are silent, but vivid testimony to the fate of Yodefat's inhabitants. A personal memento, created by one of Yodefat's residents, is a flat stone (10 x 9 cm.) with incised drawings: on its face is a structure with a stepped podium and gabled roof (a mausoleum of the type decorating ossuaries used for burial in Jerusalem at the time); on the reverse, a crab is depicted. These motifs have been interpreted as representing death (the mausoleum), and the time of the defeat - the Hebrew month of Tamuz, whose sign is the crab.

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Yodefat

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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Zippori

Zippori

The city of Zippori (Sepphoris), described by the first century CE Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius, as "the ornament of all Galilee," is located on a hill in the Lower Galilee, midway between the Mediterranean and Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), with abundant spring water and a fertile valley around it. Zippori is mentioned in many Jewish sources of the first centuries of the common era. Founded in the Hellenistic era, it was named the administrative capital of Galilee by Gabinius, the Roman governor, in the mid-first century BCE. The city did not join the revolt against Rome in 66 CE; it opened its gates to the legions of the Roman Emperor Vespasian and was thus saved. On coins minted in Zippori at that time, the city is named Eirenopolis, "city of peace." Later, its name was changed to Diocaesarea in honor of Zeus and the emperor. By the second century, Zippori had become the center of Jewish religious and spiritual life in the Land of Israel. The Sanhedrin (supreme Jewish religious and judicial body), headed by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, was located in Zippori at the beginning of the third century; at this time Jews constituted the majority of the town's population. Even after the seat of the Sanhedrin was moved to Tiberias, Zippori remained a center of Bible study and notable sages taught in its numerous academies. The discovery of rich, figurative mosaics during excavations at Zippori provide evidence of the Roman character of the city's pagan population, which coexisted in harmony with the Jews during the period of economic prosperity in the late Roman period. Zippori was destroyed in 363 by an http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/zippori.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:36:38

Zippori

earthquake, but was rebuilt soon thereafter, retaining its social and spiritual centrality in Jewish life in the Galilee. During Byzantine times, the Christian community in Zippori grew considerably. This growth was accompanied by the construction of many churches and by Christian involvement in municipal matters. Following the Arab conquest in the mid-seventh century, the city declined. Under Crusader rule during the 12th century, a small watchtower and a church (dedicated to Anne and Joachim, parents of Mary, mother of Jesus) were built on the city's hilltop. The remains of the watchtower, partly renovated in later times, still dominates the hilltop today. During the Roman and Byzantine periods an acropolis existed on the hilltop and a sprawling lower city covered a cradle-shaped ridge east of the acropolis. Since 1990 large areas of Zippori have been excavated, illuminating the written history of the city.

The Acropolis The original residential quarters of the city have been exposed on the western side of the acropolis. The remains indicate that the earliest occupation of Zippori dates back to the Hasmonean and Herodian periods (from the end of the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE). The buildings, one and two stories high, were built on both sides of a narrow paved street. A characteristic feature are the many Jewish ritual baths (mikva'ot) for domestic use, hewn in bedrock and plastered, with several steps leading to the bottom.

The Theater A large theater, 74 m. in diameter and containing 4,500 seats, was built on the northern slope of the acropolis in the Roman period. Its semicircular auditorium was partly cut into the hillside, while its wings and upper parts were supported by stone foundations and vaults. The theater was badly damaged in antiquity.

The Roman Villa

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Zippori

A magnificent third century Roman villa was exposed on the western side of the acropolis. This two-story residence contained many rooms, some paved with colorful mosaics, surrounding a central, atrium-type courtyard; columns supported its covered porticos. The courtyard was connected by doors to a triclinium, the largest room in the building, paved with a magnificent mosaic floor. The decorated part of the floor formed the shape of the letter T, which enabled guests, reclining on couches on three sides of the room, to enjoy the many panels of the floor. They depict, in over twenty shades of colored tessarae, the life of Dionysos, Greek god of wine, and scenes of daily life connected with the rites of Dionysos.

The Lower City A large area of the lower city east of the acropolis has been exposed. First inhabited during the second century, it presents a well-planned network of streets and blocks (insulae) of buildings. Two colonnaded, paved streets with roofed sidewalks - the cardo, and the intersecting decumanus - had shops on both sides. The streets underwent many changes in the course of hundreds of years. One such change took place at the end of the Byzantine period, when the sidewalks were repaved with mosaics of geometric design. The accompanying Greek inscription reads: "Under our most saintly father Euthropius the Episcopus, the whole city, in the time of the fourteenth indiction." The largest and most impressive building so far exposed is the 5th century "Nile Festival House," covering an area of 50 x 30 m. Some 20 rooms have beautiful, multi-colored mosaic floors; the most elegant, preserved almost intact, depicts scenes of the Nile Festival.

The Synagogue Remains of a 6th century synagogue were exposed in the lower city. The synagogue was elongated in shape (16 m. x 6.5 m.) with a line of columns dividing it into a main hall and a narrow aisle. The mosaic in the main hall, partly damaged, has a zodiac in the center with the sun god Helios in his chariot, surrounded by human figures, the signs of the zodiac and the names of the months. The carpet is divided into strips, some depicting scenes from the Bible (Abraham and the angels, the binding of Isaac), others Temple rituals (a sacrifice, offering of first fruits and the table with the shewbread.) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/zippori.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:36:38

Zippori

Since 1990, most of the archeological work at the site is carried out on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, under the direction of Z. Weiss and E. Netzer. Previously the site was excavated by a joint team of the University of North Carolina and the Hebrew University, directed by E.M. Meyers, C.L. Meyers and E. Netzer. Expeditions on behalf of the University of South Florida and Duke University, under E.M. Meyers, C.L. Meyers and K. Hoglund, are at present also working at the site.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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The Glass from Sepphoris

The Glass from Sepphoris (1983-1991) A Preliminary Report by Joan Keller, Glass Historian The University of South Florida's Excavations at Sepphoris, Israel

M. L. Trowbridge, in his 1928, "Philological Studies in Ancient Glass", wrote that it had been stated by a scholar in the field of glass studies that to the Greeks of the classical age, "glass was something rather foreign; to the Romans of the 1st. C. After Christ, something new." (Trowbridge, p. 150) neither of these statements mention, in fact, any reference to the Jews. According to the Mishna and Talmud and other post-biblical writings, (from about the 1st c. BCE to the 6th. C. CE), glassmaking was a common Jewish craft and was the subject of laws, legends and regulations which throw light on every branch of the industry. For example, a midrash illuminates that statement, "even as from the sand which he puts into the flame a man gets a transparent mass from which he makes a vessel of glass, even as the Jews came forth from the fire. (Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah, Chap. 2.) Rabbi Jose taught, "if a vessel of glass, made with breath blown by a mortal, can be reshaped if it is broken, how much more true is this of a human being made with breath blown by the Holy One, blessed be He..." (Midrash, Psalms, 2.11) "that Jews, too, produced glass is evident from references to glass maker's tools and furnaces in the Mishna and Tosephta, as well as from the remains of a glass factory at Beth She'arim and a number of objects decorated with menorah and other Jewish symbols. The archaeological data are of no aid in assessing the

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The Glass from Sepphoris

scope of Jewish glass makers, though this should not lead to exaggerations in either direction." (Barag, p. vi) Sepphoris was a center of talmudic study. Many academies were located there. Also its location on or near major trade routes in the lower Galilee, made it a prime market for traders of all commodities. It was, for most of its flourishing years, a thriving city with a large enough population to require a great variety of different products. What better place to explore the glass market! Economic times were not always good, however, and it seems that according to Stuart Miller, in his 1980 dissertation, "The Studies in the History and Tradition of Sepphoris", the rabbinical scholars who helped compile the Talmud and Mishna frequently earned their living by working in what seems to be most humble occupations - carpenters, shoemakers, potters and smiths among them. One is tempted to believe, therefore, that glass makers, glassware manufacturers, or glass merchants, must have been among this group. R. Johanan, who was born in Sepphoris, was for most of his life, the head of the academy at Tiberius. He had the by-name of bar Nappakha, "son of a smith". "Son" in this case, meant that he was a member of a guild of smiths, according to I. Mendelsohn's 1940 publication, "Guilds in Ancient Palestine". He continues,the use of son is illustrated in an interesting statement in the Midrash, "one who loved him called him "son of a goldsmith"; one who hated him would call him , "son of a potter"; one who neither loved nor hated him, would call him "son of a glassmaker" (Midrash Numbers 11:17). The fact that glassmakers bought glass in bulk to rework on their own premises, and that along with glassware was conveyed by sacks and baskets,on the backs of donkeys (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath, 154b), suggests that the glass business in some form or another, was carried on frequently as a home industry in ancient Palestine. The products would then be marketed by peddlers circulating around the countryside, collecting merchandise to be sold at the great fairs at Akko , Tyre, and Sidon. Interestingly enough, the coins found at Sepphoris have been identified as those from Ashkelon, Tyre, Sidon, Dor, and other Byzantine And arab issues. (Miller, p. 5-6). It is possible that a number of these communities banded together in trading and marketing arrangements as was the case with regard to Kfar Hananiah, the center of a closely-settled area on the border of upper & lower Galilee. According to the Palestinian Talmud, (Ma'asroth ii.3/2 49d), there was a group of 4 or 5 villages which stood in some special form of trading arrangement with K'far Hannaniah. The men of that place spent their whole time circulating among these villages, only returning to their home to sleep. The same situation might apply to another community, K'far Shikhnin, which like K'far Hannaniah, was famous for its pottery. Kfar Shikhnin is located on a promontory just http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/glass.html (2 of 8)2/11/2004 13:36:41

The Glass from Sepphoris

to the north of Sepphoris. This literary evidence, suggests a consideration that if the dispersal of glass and glassware followed that of pottery, it might follow that Sepphoris may have been part of a far-flung but coordinated trading organization. Before considering the amount and diversity of glass forms found at the site, mention should be made of some of the general and specific observations of other researchers in the field that are certainly relevant to our study. There is general agreement that after the process of freeblowing was perfected, it spread rapidly along the near eastern trade routes and became available to those cities and towns requiring the product. Also the forms seem to be pretty universal throughout the north, east, south and west in the ancient world. Paul Parrot, former director of the Corning Museum of Glass, wrote the introductory remarks to the Jalame volume. He stated that, "we have confirmed what the Talmud suggests, that the raw materials were melted into ingots or cullet in one place and then shipped to be remelted and shaped into objects in another". (Weinberg, p. Xii.) Weinberg mentions, for example, a marked change that occurred in the economy in Jalame in 351, "most vividly reflected in the sudden increase in the number of coins found...explained only by assuming a great increase of commercial activity...associated with a glass factory...". This drastic change must be associated with the cataclysmic events associated with the Gallus Revolt which erupted in Sepphoris in June of that year . This event affected the Galilee especially, and according to Avi-Yonah, after the rebellion was put down , "no Jews are mentioned in three cities and fifteen villages, most of them in the Galilee. " (Avi-Yonah, M., p. 180). To pursue this further, and thus consider again the possibility of a 'Sepphoris' connection, let us consider Weinberg's observation that the Jalame factory was in no sense a pioneer establishment; "the glassblowers certainly worked elsewhere before and they and their successors probably continued to work at other places after leaving Jalame." (Weinberg, p. 24). It certainly seems conceivable that with the possible destruction of the market at Sepphoris in 351, and the establishment of the glass factory at Jalame during the same year, glassware workers may have moved on to pursue their livelihood. This assumption is strengthened by a comment made by Meyers in her Jerash report when she mentions that "it seemed cheaper in the long run to import a glass-worker than to import the product. " (Meyers, p. 281). To move on to other observations concerning ancient glass production, Von Saldern, in his "Ancient and Byzantine Glass from Sardis", stated that shortly before and after AD 400 when western Roman rule diminished greatly or had ceased to exist altogether in the east and west, glass manufacture suffered a noticeable reduction in output and quality of work. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/glass.html (3 of 8)2/11/2004 13:36:41

The Glass from Sepphoris

He continues that particularly in Palestine, ordinary hollow glassware, windows and tesserae were probably the sole products of workshops that catered to a clientele satisfied w/ simple glass utensils for everyday use. Everyday forms gave way to a more limited variety of shapes, decorative devices were kept to a minimum, and the total number of objects seem to have been much less than in the 3rd. & 4th. C. (Von Saldern, pps. 1-2) however, Barag does not agree entirely. Even though "...A slow and continuous decline sets in and the glass types of the byzantine period are mostly degenerated forms of earlier types" and that "the repertory also decreased considerably...", He suggests that factories within the eastern Roman empire continued to make glass that was very similar to that of the 4th. C. The basic forms & the predominant fabric of the 4th.C. (syrian blue-green), continued to be used in the 5th. & 6th. C. He continues that "there is, however, no evidence of decline in the quantities produced, nor is there evidence for a decline in quality of the fabric employed." (Barag, p. iv) The excavated areas at Sepphoris, thus far have yielded public buildings and baths, residential areas, an amphitheater, market building, industrial installations mikvaoth, cisterns, and a complex drainage system. The corpus of cataloged glass at Sepphoris through 1991 belongs to the time period from mid-Hellenistic, (mid 2nd. C. BCE-) through what we call Arab II, ( 13th.C. C.E.). The highest concentration falls within the 4th. C. Most common are bowls with various types of rims, followed by bottles of various types from storage vessels to small unguent or cosmetic bottles. Most forms seem to be utilitarian and there are innumerable fragments of window glass, lamps, jugs, cups, and objects, such as tubes, cosmetic tools, and jewelry. Also there are many fragments so fused together that they seem to have been in a very hot damaging conflagration. Still others were manufactured so poorly, or are so disfigured, that it is considered that they may have been put aside to be recycled into cullet which could then be resold to the glassware maker. Since there are no complete vessels or objects, one must agree with Weinberg when she states that "...classification is often difficult when fragments constitute the chief evidence." (Weinberg, p.38). It is obvious that the glassmakers were accustomed to producing many kinds of rims and bases & that they assembled these in various ways. Therefore it is not always certain whether a particular base fragment for example, belongs to a shallow bowl, cup or dish. This has certainly been found to be the case, in that we have multiple types of feet, bottoms, bases, or handle fragments that cannot be identified definitely as part of a particular vessel. The same http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/glass.html (4 of 8)2/11/2004 13:36:41

The Glass from Sepphoris

holds true for similar rim diameters that could be identified with cups, bottles, or small bowls. We have to be constantly on the look-out for subtle differences and multiple criteria that help us to narrow down the identification of forms. We have classified these questionable fragments as 'unidentified' up to this point. The period of time covered by our investigation of glass finds at Sepphoris is the 1983 through 1991 excavation seasons. The number of pieces cataloged are 779. Of these the total number of identifiable forms from all fields are 535. I have not processed window glass, cullet, slag, or handles unless they are applied to a readable rim. The break-down of forms is 238 bowls, 142 bottles, 81 cups, 16 jars, 12 lamps, 13 pieces of jewelry, 10 jugs, 12 goblets, and 18 fragments of various small objects, for example, rods, tubes, discs, and game pieces. There are 244 unidentifiable fragments. Approximately twice the number of identifiable forms come from field V where the mercantile and industrial areas have been excavated, as compared to all of those pieces from fields I through IV. These numbers may change as the 1992-'94 fragments are evaluated. At least 2000 fragments were found in three drains in field V in 1993 alone. Also there is a possibility that the areas of field I may be reopened before the final excavations are completed. The most common form identified from all fields was the bowl of various depths, with some variety of rounded thickened rim, which is not unusual, as this seems to be the case at most of the sites used as parallels. We do have two most unusual pieces that fall within the bowl category that bear mentioning: one is an example of a bowl with the thickened rim, however, it has a shallow groove that runs along the middle of the lip of the rim that closely parallels what we call the ceramic "Galilean bowl" , first identified by one of our former excavation projects in the upper Galilee in the 1970's. Thus far, I have been unable to find a glass parallel to this form. Another bowl with a double-fold rim, that has been found at Bet Shearim with a rim d. of 52cm., has also been found at our site with a 57cm. rim d., The largest one seen by Dr. David Whitehouse at the Corning Museum, at least as of Fall, 1993 (his personal observation). To date, I have utilized 14 site reports and 5 museum collection catalogs to search out the parallels for our glass finds. By far, the majority of our identifiable forms parallel those cataloged at Jalame, the site of a glass factory in late Roman Palestine located east of Haifa. The excavations at that site resulted in a volume edited by Gladys Weinberg, published in 1988. According to Paul Perrot, former director of the Corning Museum, in his introductory remarks, the factory was in full production between http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/glass.html (5 of 8)2/11/2004 13:36:41

The Glass from Sepphoris

351 - 383 CE, mainly based on the large number of coins dating from about that time period, with very few dating before and after. ("Weinberg", p. Xii) following closely behind Jalame, are Hanita and Nahariya, published by Dan Barag; Crowfoot's, Samaria, Harden's Karanis in Egypt, and Vessberg's Cyprus. We have a few unique rims with parallels at Meiron and Khirbet Shema, and some from Bet She'arim and Shavei Zion. Parallels to our goblets and lamps are consistently found at Sardis, rather than primarily at Jalame, which was a surprise as, in fact, Weinberg reported finding very few of these forms. The cast grooved bowls were also found at Tel Anafa, and are illustrated in the Toledo Museum of Art catalog. They dated from mid 2nd. C, BCE to 1st. C. CE. However, the majority of our forms for which parallels were found carried a 4th. C. dating. This does not mean that the same form was not produced on a continuing basis for some time to come. Some of the small bottles were produced from 1st. through the 4th. C. The other forms were dated somewhere between the earliest, which we have mentioned, through the 13th. C. Of course modern pieces were found on the surface and in modern fill. In summary: ● ●

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1. There are no complete vessels or objects. 2. There is very little early or late luxury glass except a few Islamic pieces (a decorated gaming piece and a fragment with multicolored feather and combed design). 3. We consider that most of our finds are for utilitarian use. 4. The predominant color or shades of color are blue-green, various shades of green, yellow-green, blue, and colorless. There are a few pieces of amber, deeper blue, and black. 5. The majority of decorative motifs consist of wound threads of the same or contrasting color as the vessel. There are a few vessels with horizontal stripes of contrasting colors. 6. The weathering was mostly white or creamy white with a lot of iridescence. Some pieces had very dark to black weathering. 7. The glass finds have been considered in context with the dating of coins, pottery, mosaics and standing architecture where possible. 8. We do not have conclusive evidence that glass or glassware was produced at Sepphoris, except, perhaps a mama-papa type recycling operation. (one other has been found in another area on the site.) however, with the quantity of glass fragments found elsewhere, along with waste, what seems to be raw glass, and a number of what may be limestone crucibles, some lined with glass, it certainly warrants continued investigation.

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The Glass from Sepphoris

In conclusion, we plan to continue to evaluate and to catalog the vast quantity of glass fragments that will probably continue to be found throughout the rest of our excavations at Sepphoris. In so far as is possible, we will identify and draw the forms, offering as much detail as possible concerning each individual fragment. Eventually we hope to produce a volume that will offer enough definitive information on the Sepphoris glass finds so that we will have a well researched corpus of glass that will aid other excavation projects in the processing and publication of their material. The Galilean region seems to be rich in glass finds which deserve to be published. It is our hope that our efforts will further the development of a corpus of glass unique to that region and perhaps beyond.

BIBLIOGRAPHY ●





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Avi - Yonah, M. The Jews of Palestine: A Political History From the Bar Kokhba War to the Arab Conquest New York, 1976. Barag, Dan, "Glass Vessels of the Roman and Byzantine Periods in Palestine," diss. (Hebrew), Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1970. Engle, Anita, "Readings in Glass History, # 1 , Phoenix Publications, Jerusalem, 1973. Mendelsohn, I., "Guilds in Ancient Palestine", BASOR, # 80, 1940 Meyers,Carol, "Glass From the North Theater, Byzantine Church and Soundings at Jerash, Jordan, Supplement #25. Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, 1982 - 83. Midrash, Deuteronomy Rabbah, Chapter 2. Midrash, Numbers, 11:17. Midrash, Psalms, 2:1. Miller, Stuart, "The Studies In the History and Traditions of Sepphoris" diss., N.Y. University, 1980. Trowbridge, M. L., Philological Studies in Ancient Glass, Urbana, 1928. Von Saldern, Axel, "Ancient and Byzantine Glass From Sardis," Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass., London, England, 1980. Weinberg, Gladys, (Editor), "Excavations at Jalame Site of a Glass Factory in Roman Palestine," University of Michigan Press, Columbia, Mo., 1988.

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The Glass from Sepphoris

NOTE: All publications, site reports, dissertations, etc., that were used to find parallels to the glass forms are not mentioned above, but are available from the author. Contact Professor Longstaff ([email protected]) for further information.

Source: Colby College. Hypertext version by Thomas R. W. Longstaff © 1994, reprinted with permission.

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The Zippori Reservoir

The Zippori Reservoir

One of the things you should make a note to see at Zippori is located about a kilometer from the main site. It is an ancient water reservoir, from the Roman and Byzantine periods. This reservoir contained a valve that enabled the regulation of water flow and was apparently built in two phases, during the 2nd and 4th centuries CE. It was in use until the 7th century. It is currently easy to miss the reservoir, but in the near future the entrance to the park will be closer to it and then visitors will be less likely to miss it. Tsvika Tsuk, Director Department of Archaeology and Heritage at the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority described the Zippori reservoir as "A technological wonder which was dug on a geological fault, almost 2000 years ago. Being inside this space causes us to both respect and admire whoever planned it." Tsuk noted that a similar reservoir, most likely planned by the same person, is located close to Irbid, in Jordan. According to Tsuk the Zippori reservoir was built because the springs here were so meager, water simply had to be collected. The sheer size of the reservoir can only be felt by standing inside this wonder of ancient engineering. Today, visitors to the park can walk down roughly 40 steps into one of two reservoirs. Once at the bottom you can proceed through the tunnel that connects to the second reservoir and walk back up, using another stairway. The reservoir had an enormous capacity of 1,140,000 US gallons (4,300 cubic meters). One of these chambers is 850 feet (260 meters) long, 33 feet (10 meters) deep and 6-13 feet (2-4 meters) wide.

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The Zippori Reservoir

Source: Copyright Text © 2000 Gems in Israel All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.

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Abraham

Abraham (c. 1800 BCE - c. 1625 BCE)

According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year 1948 from Creation (circa 1800 BCE). He was the son of Terach, an idol merchant, but from his early childhood, he questioned the faith of his father and sought the truth. He came to believe that the entire universe was the work of a single Creator, and he began to teach this belief to others. Abram tried to convince his father, Terach, of the folly of idol worship. One day, when Abram was left alone to mind the store, he took a hammer and smashed all of the idols except the largest one. He placed the hammer in the hand of the largest idol. When his father returned and asked what happened, Abram said, "The idols got into a fight, and the big one smashed all the other ones." His father said, "Don't be ridiculous. These idols have no life or power. They can't do anything." Abram replied, "Then why do you worship them?" Eventually, the one true Creator that Abram had worshipped called to him, and made him an offer: if Abram would leave his home and his family, then G-d would make him a great nation and bless him. Abram accepted this offer, and the b'rit (covenant) between G-d and the Jewish people was established. (Gen. 12). The idea of b'rit is fundamental to traditional Judaism: we have a covenant, a contract, with G-d, which involves rights and obligations on both sides. We have certain obligations to G-d, and G-d has certain obligations to us. The terms of this b'rit became more explicit over time, until the time of the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/abraham.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:37:18

Abraham

Giving of the Torah. Abram was subjected to ten tests of faith to prove his worthiness for this covenant. Leaving his home is one of these trials. Abram, raised as a city-dweller, adopted a nomadic lifestyle, traveling through what is now the land of Israel for many years. G-d promised this land to Abram's descendants. Abram is referred to as a Hebrew (Ivri), possibly because he was descended from Eber or possibly because he came from the "other side" (eber) of the Euphrates River. But Abram was concerned, because he had no children and he was growing old. Abram's beloved wife, Sarai, knew that she was past childbearing years, so she offered her maidservant, Hagar, as a wife to Abram. This was a common practice in the region at the time. According to tradition, Hagar was a daughter of Pharaoh, given to Abram during his travels in Egypt. She bore Abram a son, Ishmael, who, according to both Muslim and Jewish tradition, is the ancestor of the Arabs. (Gen 16) When Abram was 100 and Sarai 90, G-d promised Abram a son by Sarai. G-d changed Abram's name to Abraham (father of many), and Sarai's to Sarah (from "my princess" to "princess"). Sarah bore Abraham a son, Isaac (in Hebrew, Yitzchak), a name derived from the word "laughter," expressing Abraham's joy at having a son in his old age. (Gen 17-18). Isaac was the ancestor of the Jewish people. [Abraham died at the age of 175.]

Source: Judaism 101.

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Hezekiah

Hezekiah

Following the death of King Ahaz his son Hezekiah ascended the throne in Jerusalem. The new monarch introduced comprehensive religious reform and introduced substantial policy changes. Hezekiah renewed the full-scale worship of the Israelite God following a lengthy period in which idol-worship had taken root in the city: "He abolished the shrines and smashed the pillars and cut down the sacred post. He also broke into pieces the bronze serpent which Moses had made, for until that time the Israelites had been offering sacrifices to it "(2 Kings 18:4). At the same time he renewed the tradition of the Passover pilgrimage in its full scope, and for the first time since the kingdom had split, under Rehoboam son of Solomon, the remnants of the tribes of Israel, those who had not gone into the Assyrian exile, were invited to take part in the most sumptuous festival which had been seen for many generations. Hezekiah took advantage of the festival to consolidate his religious reforms and to return the people to the worship of God: "A great crowd assembled at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great congregation. They set to and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they removed all the incense stands and threw them into Wadi Kidron...There was great rejoicing in Jerusalem, for since the time of King Solomon son of David of Israel nothing like it had happened in Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 30:13, 26). At the same time Hezekiah revised the political approach of his father Ahaz, appealing to Egypt to halt the Assyrian expansion. His pragmatic approach was scornfully criticized by the prophet Isaiah, who was very active and highly influential in Jerusalem during this period: "Ha! Those http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Hezekiah.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:37:19

Hezekiah

who go down to Egypt for help and rely upon horses! They have put their trust in abundance of chariots, in vast numbers of riders, and they have not turned to the Holy One of Israel, they have not sought the Lord" (Isaiah 31:1). The prophet's theopolitical approach claimed that the Assyrian conquests were no more than a sign and an omen to the people to resume the worship of God with a full heart, and that any attempt to rely on "earthly" military help was doomed to failure. For the same reason he rejected the efforts to form an alliance with Babylon (2 Kings 18). Hezekiah also made concrete preparations for the Assyrian siege that Sennecharib finally laid on Jerusalem in 701 BCE, some 20 years after his predecessor, Tiglathpileser, had ravaged the northern Kingdom of Israel. In an impressive engineering feat a tunnel 533 meters long was dug in order to provide underground access to the waters of the Gihon Spring, which lay outside the city: "When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come, intent on making war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his officers and warriors about stopping the flow of the springs outside the city, and they supported him. A large force was assembled to stop up all the springs and the wadi that flowed through the land, for otherwise, they thought, the King of Assyria would come and find water in abundance "(2 Chronicles 32:2-4). Adventurous visitors to Jerusalem can still explore this 2700-year-old technological wonder. In the Siloam Tunnel, which was dug from two different directions in order to speed up the work in the face of the advancing enemy, we find the "Siloam inscription," which commemorates the meeting of the two teams. At the same time, a wall was built around the Siloam Pool, into which the spring waters were channeled; the wall continued westward and surrounded the city, which at this time expanded to the slopes of Mount Zion. An impressive vestige of this structure, the building of which is described in Isaiah 22:11, is the broad wall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Miraculously, the city was spared the siege, although a realistic explanation was also offered for this development.

Source: The Jerusalem Mosaic. Copyright 1995 Hebrew University of Jerusalem -- All Rights Reserved.

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Isaiah

Isaiah (c. 740-681 BCE)

The prophetic vision that affirmed principles of absolute justice and morality emerged in the Jerusalem of the First Temple period. This, together with the traditions related to the genesis of the three monotheistic faiths, transformed Jerusalem into a major city in the history of human civilization. The prophets emphasized the concept of historical linearity, which maintains that the flawed present, with its rampant suffering and injustice, will ultimately undergo a radical metamorphosis, and that finally absolute justice, peace, harmony, and spiritual awareness will prevail. It was in Jerusalem that people first lifted their eyes toward a more hopeful future. A paramount shaper of the prophetic vision was Isaiah, who was active over an extraordinarily lengthy period of time: "The prophecies of Isaiah son of Amoz, who prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah "(Isaiah 1:1). Isaiah was witness to one of the most turbulent periods in Jerusalem's history, from both the political and the religious standpoint. His status enabled him to take an active part in events, and in some cases to guide them. His relations with the senior m embers of the royal house, as described in the Bible, and the fact that he had free access to the palace, together with the complex linguistic style of his prophecies, suggest that he belonged to the Jerusalem aristocracy. This, though, did not prevent him from being an outspoken mouthpiece of the common people, who were being victimized by the rampant corruption of the ruling class: "What need have I of all your sacrifices? says the Lord... Put your evil doings away http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Isaiah.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:37:21

Isaiah

from my sight... Devote yourselves to justice;... Uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow"(1:11-17). Isaiah was the most "political" of the prophets. In the face of Assyrian expansionism he counseled a passive political and military approach. He put his faith in divine salvation, which would certainly follow from a necessary change in the moral leadership and in the people's spiritual tenacity. Every "earthly" attempt to alter the course of events was foredoomed, since the mighty Assyria was no more than a "rod" in God's hands with which to punish the sins of Jerusalem: "Again the Lord spoke to me, thus: 'Because that people has spurned the gently flowing waters of Siloam assuredly, my Lord will bring up against them the mighty, massive waters of the Euphrates, the king of Assyria and all his multitude" (8:6-7). When the comprehensive religious reforms introduced by King Hezekiah seemed, at first, to justify the hopes held out for him by Isaiah, the prophet supported him in the difficult moments of the Assyrian siege: "Assuredly, thus said the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not enter this city; he shall not shoot an arrow at it, or advance upon it with a shield, or pile up a siege mound against us. He shall go back by the way he came, he shall not enter this city declares the Lord"(37:33-34). However, Isaiah took an unwaveringly dim view of Hezekiah's attempts to forge alliances with Egypt and with the envoys of the Babylonian king Merodach-baladan, as a wedge against Assyrian expansionism. Such efforts, he said, attested to insufficient faith in the Lord. Isaiah is also considered the most universal of the prophets: "In the days to come, the Mount of the Lord's House shall stand firm above the mountains... And the many peoples shall go and shall say: Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord ... "(2:2-3). Christian theologists have drawn heavily on Isaiah's prophecies for exegetical purposes.

Source: The Jerusalem Mosaic. Copyright 1995 Hebrew University of Jerusalem -- All Rights Reserved.

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Isaac

Isaac

Isaac was the subject of the tenth and most difficult test of Abraham’s faith: G-d commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. (Gen 22). This test is known in Jewish tradition as the Akeidah (the Binding, a reference to the fact that Isaac was bound on the altar). But this test is also an extraordinary demonstration of Isaac's own faith, because according to Jewish tradition, Isaac knew that he was to be sacrificed, yet he did not resist, and was united with his father in dedication. At the last moment, G-d sent an angel to stop the sacrifice. It is interesting to note that child sacrifice was a common practice in the region at the time. Thus, to people of the time, the surprising thing about this story is not the fact that G-d asked Abraham to sacrifice his child, but that G-d stopped him! Judaism uses this story as evidence that G-d abhors human sacrifice. In fact, I have seen some sources indicating that Abraham failed this test of faith because he did not refuse to sacrifice his son! Judaism has always strongly opposed the practice of human sacrifice, commonplace in many other cultures at that time and place. Isaac later married Rebecca (Rivka), who bore him fraternal twin sons: Jacob (Ya'akov) and Esau. (Gen 25).

Source: Judaism 101 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/isaac.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:37:22

Isaac

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Jacob

Jacob Isaac’s wife Rebecca (Rivka) gave birth to fraternal twin sons: Jacob (Ya'akov) and Esau. The two brothers were at war with each other even before they were born. They struggled within Rebecca's womb. Esau was Isaac's favorite, because he was a good hunter, but the more spirituallyminded Jacob was Rebecca's favorite. Esau had little regard for the spiritual heritage of his forefathers, and sold his birthright of spiritual leadership to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew. When Isaac was growing old, Rebecca tricked him into giving Jacob a blessing meant for Esau. Esau was angry about this, and about the birthright, so Jacob fled to live with his uncle, where he met his beloved Rachel. Jacob was deceived into marrying Rachel's older sister, Leah, but later married Rachel as well, and Rachel and Leah's maidservants, Bilhah and Zilphah. Between these four women, Jacob fathered 12 sons and one daughter. After many years living with and working for his uncle/father-in-law, Jacob returned to his homeland and sought reconciliation with his brother Esau. He prayed to G-d and gave his brother gifts. The night before he went to meet his brother, he sent his wives, sons, and things across the river, and was alone with G-d. That night, he wrestled with a man until the break of day. As the dawn broke, Jacob demanded a blessing from the man, and the "man" revealed himself as an angel. He blessed Jacob and gave him the name "Israel" (Yisrael), meaning "the one who wrestled with G-d" or "the Champion of G-d." The Jewish people are generally referred to as the Children of Israel, signifying our descent from Jacob. The next day, Jacob met Esau and was welcomed by him.

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Jacob

Jacob fathered 12 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin. They are the ancestors of the tribes of Israel, and the ones for whom the tribes are named. Joseph is the father of two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim. Joseph's older brothers were jealous of him, because he was the favorite of their father, and because he had visions that he would lead them all. They sold Joseph into slavery and convinced their father that Joseph was dead. Joseph was brought into Egypt, where his ability to interpret visions earned him a place in the Pharaoh's court, paving the way for his family's later settlement in Egypt.

Source: Judaism 101.

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Joseph

Joseph By Shira Schoenberg

The biblical Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob. He was born to Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel, in Paddan-Aram after she had been barren for seven years. Joseph fathered two of the twelve tribes of Israel: Ephraim and Manasseh. Information about Joseph is found in Genesis chapters 37-50. At the age of 17, Joseph was a shepherd alongside his brothers. Jacob loved Joseph more than he loved his other sons. Joseph would report his brothers’ misdeeds to his father and Jacob gave Joseph a "coat of many colors." The other brothers were jealous of Joseph and hated him. Joseph only further provoked this hatred when he told his brothers about two of his dreams. In the first, sheaves of wheat belonging to his brothers bowed to his own sheaf. In the second, the son, moon, and 11 stars bowed to him. One day, Jacob sent Joseph to Shechem to check on his brothers. Joseph went to Shechem and, when his brothers were not there, followed them to Dothan. When the brothers saw him, they plotted to kill him and throw him into a pit. The oldest brother, Reuben, suggested that they merely throw Joseph into the pit, so Reuben could secretly save Joseph later. When Joseph approached, the brothers took his coat and threw him into the pit. They sat down to eat and saw a caravan of Ishmaelite traders from Gilead in the distance. Judah came up with the idea to sell Joseph into slavery. Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver. The brothers then dipped his coat into the blood of a slaughtered goat and brought it back to Jacob. Jacob recognized the coat and concluded that a beast had killed his son. He mourned for many days and was inconsolable.

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Meanwhile, the traders took Joseph down to Egypt where Potiphar, an officer and head of the kitchen of Pharaoh, bought him. Joseph was successful there and Potiphar made Joseph his personal attendant, putting him in charge of the entire household. Joseph was well built and handsome and after some time Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. She approached Joseph day after day but he refused her each time, citing loyalty to Potiphar and to God. One day, Joseph came into the house to work. Potiphar’s wife grabbed his coat and he ran away. She then pretended that Joseph had tried to seduce her and slandered him first to her servants and then to her husband. Potiphar was furious and sent Joseph to a jail for the king’s prisoners. In prison, the chief jailor liked Joseph and put him in charge of all the other prisoners, including Pharaoh’s butler and baker. One night both the butler and the baker had strange dreams. Joseph interpreted the dreams, saying that in three days time the butler would be recalled to his former position while the baker would be killed. Sure enough, three days later, Pharaoh restored the butler to his job and killed the baker. Joseph asked the butler to mention his name to Pharaoh in the hope that he would be freed, but the butler forgot about Joseph. Two years later, Pharaoh himself had two dreams that his magicians could not interpret. The butler then remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. Pharaoh sent for the 30-year-old Joseph. He appeared before Pharaoh and told him in the name of God that the dreams forecasted seven years of plentiful crops followed by seven years of famine. He advised Pharaoh to make a wise man commissioner over the land with overseers to gather and store food from the seven years of abundance to save for the years of scarcity. Joseph’s prediction and advice pleased Pharaoh and he made Joseph his second-in-command. He gave Joseph his ring and dressed him in robes of linen with a gold chain around his neck. Pharaoh gave him the Egyptian name Zaphenath-paneah and found him a wife named Asenath, daughter of Poti-phera the priest of On. Joseph traveled throughout Egypt, gathering and storing enormous amounts of grain from each city. During these years, Asenath and Joseph had two sons. The first Joseph named Manasseh, meaning, "God has made me forget (nashani) completely my hardship and my parental home" (Genesis 41:51). He named the second son Ephraim, meaning, "God has made me fertile (hiprani) in the land of my affliction" (Genesis 41:52). After seven years, a famine spread throughout the world, and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Joseph.html (2 of 6)2/11/2004 13:37:25

Joseph

Egypt was the only country that had food. Joseph was in charge of rationing grain to the Egyptians and to all who came to Egypt. The famine affected Canaan and Jacob sent his 10 oldest sons to Egypt to get food, keeping only Benjamin, Rachel’s second son and Jacob’s youngest child, at home out of concern for his safety. Joseph’s brothers came and bowed to Joseph, who recognized them immediately but pretended they were strangers. He asked them where they were from and accused them of being spies. They denied his claim but he continued to speak harshly to them and interrogate them. They told him they had a younger brother at home. Joseph then locked them in the guardhouse for three days before commanding the brothers to go home and bring their youngest brother back with them to prove that they were telling the truth. The brothers spoke among themselves lamenting that they were being punished for what they had done to Joseph, who overheard them, turned away and wept, but then continued his act. He gave them grain and provisions for the journey, secretly returned their money and kept Simeon in jail pending their return. The brothers returned to Canaan and told Jacob all that had happened in Egypt. They asked Jacob to send Benjamin down with them but he refused, "Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you would take away Benjamin" (Genesis 42:36). Even Reuben’s offer that Jacob could kill Reuben’s two sons if Benjamin did not return safely did not move Jacob. Eventually, they finished the rations from Egypt and the famine became so severe that Jacob no longer had a choice. Judah told Jacob to send Benjamin in his care and if Benjamin did not return, "I shall stand guilty before you forever" (Genesis 43:9) So Jacob sent the brothers back to Egypt with Benjamin, along with a gift for Joseph and double the necessary money to repay the money that was returned to them. When the brothers arrived, Joseph brought them to the entrance of his house and instructed his servant to prepare a meal. The brothers were scared and told Joseph they did not know how the money got back in their bags. Joseph replied that their God must have put it there because he received their payment. The brothers then went inside and waited for Joseph to come eat with them. When he returned, they gave him the gifts and bowed to him. He asked about their father, and they responded that he was well, and bowed a second time. He asked if Benjamin was their brother, and left the room, overcome with emotion after seeing his brother again. He then returned and ate and drank with his brothers, giving Benjamin more food than the others. He then instructed his servant to fill

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the brothers’ bags with food, return each one’s money a second time, and put his own silver goblet in Benjamin’s bag. As soon as the brothers left the city, Joseph’s servant overtook them and accused them of stealing Joseph’s goblet. He said that whoever had the goblet in his possession would be kept as a slave, while the others would go free. He searched their possessions and found the goblet in Benjamin’s bag. All the brothers returned to the city and threw themselves on the ground before Joseph. Judah expressed their willingness to become Joseph’s slave. Joseph answered that only the one in whose possession the goblet was found would become a slave. Judah then pleaded with Joseph, telling him of Jacob’s reluctance to send Benjamin and of his own responsibility for Benjamin. He told of the sorrow that would overtake Jacob if Benjamin did not return. At this point, Joseph could not longer control himself. He sent away all of his attendants, began to cry loudly and revealed his true identity to his brothers. Joseph’s first query was about his father, but the brothers were too shocked to answer. He reassured them that it was God’s providence that sent him to Egypt to ensure their survival during the famine, and he was not angry with them. He sent them back with instructions to tell Jacob what had become of Joseph and to bring Jacob and his household to the nearby town of Goshen where Joseph could care for them during the next five years of famine. He then embraced Benjamin, kissed all of his brothers and wept. Pharaoh heard that Joseph’s brothers had come and told them to bring their households to Egypt where he would give them the best of the land. Joseph gave each of them a wagon, provisions for the trip and a change of clothing. He gave Benjamin 300 pieces of silver and several changes of clothing. He also sent a large present back for his father. At first Jacob did not believe that Joseph was alive. After he saw the wagons that Joseph sent, however, he realized it was true. Then Jacob, at age 130, set out for Goshen with the 70 members of his household. He sent Judah ahead of him so Joseph knew that his father was coming. Joseph went to meet him and they embraced and cried. Joseph told Pharaoh that his brothers and father had arrived. The brothers informed Pharaoh that they were shepherds and Pharaoh put them in charge of his livestock. They lived in the best part of Egypt, in Rameses, and Joseph provided them with bread. As the famine continued, the Egyptians eventually ran out of money. They

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begged Joseph for food and he gave them bread in exchange for their animals. After a year, their animals were gone and Joseph made a new deal with the people. He gave them seed to plant on their farms and in exchange they gave Pharaoh one-fifth of their crops. He nationalized all farmland except that belonging to the priests, and turned the people into serfs. After Jacob had lived in Egypt for 17 years, he called Joseph to him and made him swear that when Jacob died, Joseph would not bury him in Egypt, but would take him to the burial place of his fathers. Joseph swore to this. Soon after, Joseph was told that his father was sick. He brought his two sons to Jacob. Jacob assured Joseph that he would consider Ephraim and Manasseh to be his sons just like Reuben and Simeon were when it came to the inheritance that God had promised Jacob’s offspring. Jacob then blessed Ephraim and Manasseh. Although Manasseh was the firstborn, Jacob put his right hand, the stronger hand, on Ephraim’s head. When Joseph corrected him, Jacob said he did it on purpose and predicted that Ephraim would surpass Manasseh in greatness. Jacob told Joseph that he was about to die, but reassured him that God would be with him. He also assigned him an extra portion of his inheritance, a privilege usually given to the first-born. Jacob blessed all of his sons, giving the longest blessing to Joseph. He instructed them to bury him in the cave of Machpelah, and then he died. Joseph flung himself at his father, cried and kissed him. Joseph then ordered his physicians to embalm Jacob. The Egyptians mourned for 70 days. Joseph received permission to go to Canaan to bury Jacob. He took his brothers and his father’s household, along with all of Pharaoh’s officials and dignitaries, and left Egypt in a large group. When they came to Goren ha-Atad, he observed a seven-day mourning period. Joseph and his brothers then continued to the cave of Machpelah where they buried Jacob. They then returned to Egypt. Once Jacob was dead, the brothers were scared that Joseph would take revenge on them for selling him. They sent a message to Joseph saying that before his death Jacob had instructed them to tell Joseph to forgive them. They then offered to be his slaves. Joseph reassured them, saying that God intended for Joseph to go down to Egypt to ensure the survival of many people, and Joseph would take care of them and their children. So Joseph, his brothers and his father’s household remained in Egypt. Joseph lived 110 years. He saw great-grandchildren from both his sons. Before he died, he told his brothers that God would one day bring them up

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from Egypt into the land that God promised their fathers. He made them swear to carry his bones out of Egypt into that land. Joseph died and was embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt. When the Jews eventually left Egypt, Moses carried out Joseph’s bones. Joseph was buried in Shechem, on a piece of land that Jacob had previously bought. Joseph’s two sons both became tribes in Israel and the northern Israelite kingdom is many times referred to as the "House of Joseph."

Sources "Joseph" Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Judaica. "Joseph". CD-ROM Edition, Judaica Multimedia (Israel) Ltd. The World Book Encyclopedia. "Joseph". Vol. 11, 1988 Edition.

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Joshua

Joshua By David Shyovitz

Joshua ben Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, was the second person to lead the Jewish people in their early history. He spent the early part of his life training under Moses, and took over for him when the Israelites entered the land of Canaan. Joshua's charisma and skill as a leader are evident from the success of the Jews during his lifetime, and their rapid decline following his death. Indeed, not until Samuel's reign hundreds of years later do the Israelites find a comparable leader. The first appearance of Joshua in the Bible is in Exodus 17, where he is called Hosea. When the Israelites are attacked by the Amalekites immediately after their crossing of the Red Sea, it is Hosea who leads the counter-attack. He defeats the enemy, and subsequently becomes Moses's assistant and protege. He is next mentioned at Sinai, where he waits diligently at the edge of the mountain for Moses to descend; thus, unlike the other members of his tribe, Hosea was not involved in the sin of the Golden Calf. Hosea also accompanied Moses when he went to the Tent of Meeting for the remaining years in the desert. Hosea's most notable exploit in the Torah takes place during the episode of the spies in Numbers 13-14. He is chosen to represent the tribe of Ephraim among the group of twelve leaders who travel to Canaan to scout out the land. Upon returning from their mission, the spies unanimously http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/joshua.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:37:27

Joshua

praise the land; ten of them, however, add that it will be impossible to conquer, and that it in fact "eats its inhabitants." Joshua and Caleb ben Jephunneh dissent, and try to no avail to convince the Jews that God will indeed give them the land. Because the Jews believed the report of the ten libelous spies, God waits forty years before leading the Israelites into the land; by that point, the entire generation that believed the bad reports about Canaan has dies with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. It is also during the episode of the spies that Hosea's name is changed to Joshua. According to midrashic sources, Moses foresaw the disaster that would occur when the spies returned, and gave his apprentice moral support by adding the name of God to his name, changing Hosea ("saves") into Joshua ("God saves"). As Moses's death draws near, Joshua is chosen to be his successor. The Pentateuch ends with the Israelites on the verge of crossing the Jordan into the land of Canaan, and the first book of the Prophets, which is named after Joshua, picks up where the Torah left off. Immediately, Joshua demonstrates a duality within his character that was missing from that of Moses. While Moses was primarily a spiritual leader, who acted as an intermediary between God and the Jews, Joshua was a capable military commander as well as a religious leader. By capturing the city of Jericho, and, eventually, the rest of the land of Canaan, Joshua shows that his leadership is different from that of Moses. Indeed, his new role reflects the new reality that the Israelites encounter in their new homeland: In the desert, where their needs were provided for by God in a steady flow of miracles, a purely spiritual leader was sufficient. Now, with their destiny in their own hands, the Jews need a more practical, physically capable leader. Of course, the book of Joshua emphasizes the role that God played in the leader's victories. In the account of one battle (in Joshua 10), for example, the Torah reports that as evening approached, the Jews were winning and wanted to finish the battle, so that their enemy would have no chance to regroup. Thus, God caused the sun to stand still, allowing the Jews to finish the battle and avoid having to fight another one. The battle of Jericho, the Israelites' first, is won by surrounding the walls of the city and walking around them, causing them to miraculously collapse. Once in the city, they kill all of the inhabitants but the family of Rahab, the harlot who housed the spies that scouted out the city in Joshua

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1. According to midrash, Joshua eventually married Rahab, and the prophets Jeremiah and Hulda were their descendents; however, there is no actual report in the book of Joshua of the leader marrying anyone, or having any family life whatsoever. From Jericho, the nation proceeds to Ai, and then to the rest of Canaan. According to midrash, however, the forcible conquest and bloody battles reported in the rest of the book are only part of the story. When approaching a city, the residents were given the choice of leaving unharmed, making peace, or declaring war. Several tribes, such as the Gibeonites, took advantage of this policy, made peace, and were later defended by the Jews when attacked by the tribes who had chosen to make war (Joshua 9-10). For whatever reason, Joshua, unlike Moses, does not appoint a successor as his death approaches. As a result of the leadership vacuum, the Israelites begin to sin not long after Joshua's death. Rather than completing the conquest, they live together with the land's previous inhabitants, and allow themselves to be swayed by their neighbors' pagan beliefs. Thus begins a long period in which the Jews sin, are oppressed by neighboring countries, are saved by a leader (or "judge"), rededicate themselves to God, and eventually sin again. The entire book of Judges details this cycle, and it is not till the founding of the Davidic dynasty in I Kings that the nation has permanent leadership once again. Interestingly, Christianity has attributed to Joshua a role that Judaism has not. The similarity of the name Yehoshua (the Hebrew version of Joshua) to Yeshua (Jesus's Hebrew name) led Christian theologists to view Joshua as a precursor of Jesus. Thus, Joshua's crossing of the Jordan is mirrored by Jesus' baptism in it; Joshua's military campaigns foreshadow Jesus's battles with Satan; and Joshua's succession of Moses symbolizes the end put to Mosaic law by Jesus. Additionally, Joshua has been a frequent subject of artistic expression. Numerous classic paintings depict the battle of Jericho, as do several epic poems and an Oratorio by George Frederic Handel.

Source: Encyclopedia Judaica, "Joshua."

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Moses

Moses

Along with God, it is the figure of Moses (Moshe) who dominates the Torah. Acting at God's behest, it is he who leads the Jews out of slavery, unleashes the Ten Plagues against Egypt, guides the freed slaves for forty years in the wilderness, carries down the law from Mount Sinai, and prepares the Jews to enter the land of Canaan. Without Moses, there would be little apart from laws to write about in the last four books of the Torah. Moses is born during the Jewish enslavement in Egypt, during a terrible period when Pharaoh decrees that all male Hebrew infants are to be drowned at birth. His mother, Yocheved, desperate to prolong his life, floats him in a basket in the Nile. Hearing the crying child as she walks by, Pharaoh's daughter pities the crying infant and adopts him (Exodus 2:110). It surely is no coincidence that the Jews' future liberator is raised as an Egyptian prince. Had Moses grown up in slavery with his fellow Hebrews, he probably would not have developed the pride, vision, and courage to lead a revolt. The Torah records only three incidents in Moses' life before God appoints him a prophet. As a young man, outraged at seeing an Egyptian overseer beating a Jewish slave, he kills the overseer. The next day, he tries to make peace between two Hebrews who are fighting, but the aggressor takes umbrage and says: "Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Moses immediately understands that he is in danger, for though his high status undoubtedly would protect him from punishment for the murder of a mere overseer, the fact that he killed the man for carrying out his duties to Pharaoh would brand him a rebel against the king. Indeed, Pharaoh orders Moses killed, and he flees to Midian. At this point, Moses probably wants nothing more than a peaceful interlude, but immediately he finds himself http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/moses.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:37:29

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in another fight. The seven daughters of the Midianite priest Reuel (also called Jethro) are being abused by the Midianite male shepherds, and Moses rises to their defense (Exodus 2:11-22). The incidents are of course related. In all three, Moses shows a deep, almost obsessive commitment to fighting injustice. Furthermore, his concerns are not parochial. He intervenes when a non-Jew oppresses a Jew, when two Jews fight, and when non-Jews oppress other non-Jews. Moses marries Tzipporah, one of the Midianite priest's daughters, and becomes the shepherd for his father-in-law's flock. On one occasion, when he has gone with his flock into the wilderness, an angel of the Lord appears to him in the guise of a bush that is burning but is not consumed (see next entry). The symbolism of the miracle is powerful. In a world in which nature itself is worshiped, God shows that He rules over it. Once He has so effectively elicited Moses' attention, God commands-over Moses' strenuous objections-that he go to Egypt and along with his brother, Aaron, make one simple if revolutionary demand of Pharaoh: "Let my people go." Pharaoh resists Moses' petition, until God wreaks the Ten Plagues on Egypt, after which the children of Israel escape. Months later, in the Sinai Desert, Moses climbs Mount Sinai and comes down with the Ten Commandments, only to discover the Israelites engaged in an orgy and worshiping a Golden Calf. The episode is paradigmatic: Only at the very moment God or Moses is doing something for them are they loyal believers. The instant God's or Moses' presence is not manifest, the children of Israel revert to amoral, immoral, and sometimes idolatrous behavior. Like a true parent, Moses rages at the Jews when they sin, but he never turns against them-even when God does. To God's wrathful declaration on one occasion that He will blot out the Jews and make of Moses a new nation, he answers, "Then blot me out too" (Exodus 32:32). The law that Moses transmits to the Jews in the Torah embraces far more than the Ten Commandments. In addition to many ritual regulations. the Jews are instructed to love God as well as be in awe of Him, to love their neighbors as themselves, and to love the stranger-that is, the non-Jew living among them-as themselves as well. The saddest event in Moses' life might well be God's prohibiting him from entering the land of Israel. The reason for this ban is explicitly connected http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/moses.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:37:29

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to an episode in Numbers in which the Hebrews angrily demand that Moses supply them with water. God commands Moses to assemble the community, "and before their very eyes order the [nearby] rock to yield its water." Fed up with the Hebrews' constant whining and complaining, he says to them instead: "Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you out of this rock?" He then strikes the rock twice with his rod, and water gushes out (Numbers 20:2-13). It is this episode of disobedience, striking the rock instead of speaking to it, that is generally offered as the explanation for why God punishes Moses and forbids him to enter Israel. The punishment, however, seems so disproportionate to the offense, that the real reason for God's prohibition must go deeper. Most probably, as Dr. Jacob Milgrom, professor of Bible at the University of California, Berkeley, has suggested (elaborating on earlier comments of Rabbi Hananael, Nachmanides, and the Bekhor Shor) that Moses' sin was declaring, "Shall we get water for you out of this rock?" implying that it was he and his brother, Aaron, and not God, who were the authors of the miracle. Rabbi Irwin Kula has suggested that Moses' sin was something else altogether. Numbers 14:5 records that when ten of the twelve spies returned from Canaan and gloomily predicted that the Hebrews would never be able to conquer the land, the Israelites railed against Moses. In response, he seems to have had a mini-breakdown: "Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembled congregation of the Israelites." The two independent spies, Joshua and Caleb, both of whom rejected the majority report, took over "and exhorted the whole Israelite community" (Numbers 14:7). Later, in Deuteronomy, when Moses delivers his final summing-up to the Israelites, he refers back to this episode: "When the Lord heard your loud complaint, He was angry. He vowed: "Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, none except Caleb.... Because of you, the Lord was incensed with me too, and He said: You shall not enter it either. Joshua ... who attends you, he shall enter it" (1:3438). Despite these two sad episodes, Moses impressed his monotheistic vision upon the Jews with such force that in the succeeding three millennia, Jews have never confused the messenger with the Author of the message. As Princeton philosopher Walter Kaufmann has written: "in Greece, the heroes of the past were held to have been sired by a god or to have been born of a goddess ... [and] in Egypt, the Pharaoh was considered divine." But despite the extraordinary veneration accorded Moses — "there has not arisen a prophet since like Moses" is the Bible's verdict (Deuteronomy 34:10) — no Jewish thinker ever thought he was anything other than a man. See And No One Knows His Burial Place to This Day.

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SOURCES AND FURTHER READINGS: The Kaufmann quote is found in his Religions in Four Dimensions, p. 43. For an analysis of Moses' three fights against injustice, see Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Shemot: The Book of Exodus, pp. 39-48. Milgrom's explanation of Moses' punishment is found in his The JPS Torah Commentary, Numbers, p. 452. See also Martin Buber, Moses; Aaron Wildavsky, The Nursing Father: Moses as a Political Leader; Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution; Daniel Jeremy Silver, Images of Moses.

Source: Joseph Telushkin. Jewish Literacy. NY: William Morrow and Co., 1991. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: Introduction

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: Introduction

The Hebrew religion gave us monotheism; it gave us the concept of rule by law; it gave us the concept that the divine works its purpose on human history through human events; it gave us the concept of the covenant, that the one god has a special relationship to a community of humans above all others. In the West, in the Middle East, in most of Africa and Asia, the legacy of Hebrew religion permeates nearly everything you see. The Hebrew religion, so important and far-reaching in its influence on human culture, did not spring up overnight. Along with the Hebrew history, the development of Hebrew religion was a long and rocky road. Major shifts in the Hebrew fate inspired revolutions in the religion itself; it wasn't until sometime after the Exilic period that the central document of Hebrew faith, the Torah, took its final and orthodox shape. Through archaeology and through analysis of the Hebrew scriptures, scholars have divided the development of the Hebrew religion into four main periods: The Pre-Mosaic Stage The Hebrew faith is marked by possible polytheism and animistic practices; it is generally believed that the introduction of Yahweh worship and monolatry occurs during the migration from Egypt. National Monolatry and Monotheism The Hebrews adopt a single, local god as their god; eventually this religion evolves into a monotheistic http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/birthintro.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:37:52

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: Introduction

religion. The Prophetic Revolution The cultural shock of the monarchy inspires a radically new religion under the intellectual leadership of a few "prophets" or "prophetic" writers. Post-Exilic Revolution The disaster of the Exile led to a radical rethinking of the Yahweh religion and the elevation of the Torah as the single, unsullied law for the Hebrews. In the dimmest beginnings of Hebrew history, we can barely glimpse the original Hebrew religion. However, we'll begin our journey in the mystery at the beginning of Jewish history.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Pre-Mosaic Stage

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Pre-Mosaic Stage (~1950-1300 BC)

Little or nothing can be known for certain about the nature of Hebrew worship before the migration from Egypt. In Hebrew history, Abraham is already worshipping a figure called "Elohim," which is the plural for "lord." This figure is also called "El Shaddai" ("God the Mountaineer (?)," translated as "God Almighty"), and a couple other variants. The name of God, Yahweh, isn't learned by the Hebrews until Moses hears the name spoken by God on Mount Sinai. This god requires animal sacrifices and regular expiation. He intrudes on human life with astonishing suddenness, and often demands absurd acts from humans. The proper human relationship to this god is obedience, and the early history of humanity is a history of humans oscillating between obedience to this god and autonomy. This god is anthropomorphic: he has human qualities. He is frequently angered and seems to have some sort of human body. In addition, the god worshipped by Abraham and his descendants is the creator god, that is, the god solely responsible for the creation of the universe. The god of Genesis is bisexual: he/she is often referred to in female as well as male terms. For instance, this god is represented frequently as "mothering" or "giving birth through labor pains" to the world and humans (these passages are universally mistranslated in English as "fathering"—this god is only referred to as a "father" twice in Genesis ). In Genesis , Elohim or El Shaddai functions as a primitive lawgiver; after the Flood, this god gives to Noah those primitive laws which apply to all human beings, the so-called Noahide Laws. Nothing of the sophistication and comprehensive of the Mosaic laws is evident in the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/premo.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:37:54

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Pre-Mosaic Stage

early history of the human relationship to Yahweh as outlined in Genesis . Scholars have wracked their brains trying to figure out what conclusions might be drawn about this human history. In general, they believe that the portrait of Hebrew religion in Genesis is an inaccurate one. They conclude instead that Hebrew monolatry and monotheism began with the Yahweh cult introduced, according to Exodus, in the migration from Egypt between 1300 and 1200 BC. The text of Genesis in their view is an attempt to legitimate the occupation of Palestine by asserting a covenantal relationship between Yahweh and the Hebrews that had been established far in the distant past. All these conclusions are brilliant but tentative, for we'll never know for sure much of anything substantial about Hebrew history and religion during the age of the patriarchs or the sojourn in Egypt. Nevertheless, scholars draw on the text of Genesis to conclude the following controversial ideas about early Hebrew religion: — Early Hebrew religion was polytheistic; the curious plural form of the name of God, Elohim rather than El, leads them to believe that the original Hebrew religion involved several gods. This plural form, however, can be explained as a "royal" plural. Several other aspects of the account of Hebrew religion in Genesis also imply a polytheistic faith. — The earliest Hebrew religion was animistic, that is, the Hebrews seemed worship forces of nature that dwelled in natural objects. — As a result, much of early Hebrew religion had a number of practices that fall into the category of magic: scapegoat sacrifice and various forms of imitative magic, all of which are preserved in the text of Genesis . — Early Hebrew religion eventually became anthropomorphic, that is, god or the gods took human forms; in later Hebrew religion, Yahweh becomes a figure that transcends the human and material worlds. Individual tribes probably worshipped different gods; there is no evidence in Genesis that anything like a national God existed in the time of the patriarchs. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/premo.html (2 of 3)2/11/2004 13:37:54

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Pre-Mosaic Stage

The most profound revolution in Hebrew thought, though, occurred in the migration from Egypt, and its great innovator was Moses. In the epic events surrounding the flight from Egypt and the settling of the promised land, Hebrew religion became permanently and irrevocably, the Mosaic religion.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: National Monolatry and Monotheism

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: National Monolatry and Monotheism (~1300-1000 BC)

According to Hebrew history narrated in Exodus , the second book of the Torah, the Hebrews became a nation and adopted a national god on the slopes of Mount Sinai in southern Arabia. While we know nothing whatsoever of Hebrew life in Egypt, the flight from Egypt is described in Hebrew history with immense and powerful detail. The migration itself creates a new entity in history: the Israelites; Exodus is the first place in the Torah which refers to the Hebrews as a single national group, the "bene yisrael," or "children of Israel." The flight from Egypt itself stands as the single greatest sign from Yahweh that the Israelites were the chosen people of Yahweh; it is the event to be always remembered as demonstrating Yahweh's purpose for the Hebrew people. It is the point in history that the scattered tribes descended from Abraham become a single unit, a single nation. It is also the crucial point in history that the Hebrews adopt Yahweh as their national god. Hebrew history is absolutely silent about Hebrew worship during the sojourn in Egypt. A single religious observance, the observation of Passover, originates in Egypt immediately before the migration. This observance commemorates how Yahweh spared the Hebrews when he destroyed all the first born sons in the land of Egypt. The Yahweh religion itself, however, is learned when the mass of Hebrews collect at Mount Sinai in Midian, which is located in the southern regions of the Arabian http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Monolatry.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:37:57

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: National Monolatry and Monotheism

peninsula. During this period, called the Sinai pericope, Moses teaches the Hebrews the name of their god and brings to them the laws that the Hebrews, as the chosen people, must observe. The Sinai pericope is a time of legislation and of cultural formation in the Hebrew view of history. In the main, the Hebrews learn all the cultic practices and observances that they are to perform for Yahweh. Scholars are in bitter disagreement over the origin of the the Yahweh religion and the identity of its founder, Moses. While Moses is an Egyptian name, the religion itself comes from Midian. In the account, Moses lives for a time with a Midianite priest, Jethro, at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Midianites seem to have a Yahweh religion already in place; they worship the god of Mount Sinai as a kind of powerful nature deity. So it's possible that the Hebrews picked up the Yahweh religion from another group of Semites and that this Yahweh religion slowly developed into the central religion of the Hebrews. All scholars are agreed, however, that the process was slow and painful. In the Hebrew history, all during the migration and for two centuries afterwards, the Hebrews follow many various religions unevenly. The Mosaic religion was initially a monolatrous religion; while the Hebrews are enjoined to worship no deity but Yahweh, there is no evidence that the earliest Mosaic religion denied the existence of other gods. In fact, the account of the migration contains numerous references by the historical characters to other gods, and the first law of the Decalogue is, after all, that no gods be put before Yahweh, not that no other gods exist. While controversial among many people, most scholars have concluded that the initial Mosaic religion for about two hundred years was a monolatrous religion. For there is ample evidence in the Hebrew account of the settlement of Palestine, that the Hebrews frequently changed religions, often several times in a single lifetime. The name of god introduced in the Mosaic religion is a mysterious term. In Hebrew, the word is YHWH (there are no vowels in biblical Hebrew); we have no clue how this word is pronounced. Linguists believe that the word is related to the Semitic root of the verb, "to be," and may mean something like, "he causes to be." In English, the word is translated "I AM": "I AM THAT I AM. You will say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent you." For a few centuries, Yahweh was largely an anthropomorphic god, that is, he had human qualities and physical characteristics. The Yahweh of the

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: National Monolatry and Monotheism

Torah is frequently angry and often capricious; the entire series of plagues on Egypt, for instance, seem unreasonably cruel. In an account from the monarchical period, Yahweh strikes someone dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant; that individual, Uzza, was only touching the ark to keep it from falling over (I Chronicles 13.10). But there are some striking innovations in this new god. First, this god, anthropomorphic or not, is conceived as operating above and outside nature and the human world. The Mosaic god is conceived as the ruler of the Hebrews, so the Mosaic laws also have the status of a ruler. The laws themselves in the Torah were probably written much later, in the eighth or seventh centuries. It is not unreasonable, however, to conclude that the early Mosaic religion was a law-based religion that imagined Yahweh as the author and enforcer of these laws. In fact, the early Hebrews seemed to have conceived of Yahweh as a kind of monarch. In addition, Yahweh is more abstract than any previous gods; one injunction to the Hebrews is that no images of Yahweh be made or worshipped. Finally, there was no afterlife in the Mosaic religion. All human and religious concerns were oriented around this world and Yahweh's purposes in this world. As the Hebrews struggled with this new religion, lapsing frequently into other religions, they were slowly sliding towards their first major religious and ethical crisis: the monarchy. The Yahweh religion would be shaken to its roots by this crisis and would be irrevocably changed.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Prophetic Revolution

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Prophetic Revolution (~800-600 BC)

Wearied from over two centuries of sporadic conflict with indigenous peoples, broken by a ruinous civil war, and constantly threatened on all sides, the disparate Hebrew settlers of Palestine began to long for a unified state under a single monarch. Such a state would provide the organization and the military to fend off the war-like peoples surrounding them. Their desire, however, would provoke the first major crisis in the Hebrew world view: the formation of the Hebrew monarchy. In the Hebrew account of their own history, the children of Israel who settled Palestine between 1250 and 1050 BC, believed Yahweh to be their king and Yahweh's laws to be their laws (whether or not this is historically true is controversial). In desiring to have a king, the tribes of Israel were committing a grave act of disobedience towards Yahweh, for they were choosing a human being and human laws of Yahweh and Yahweh's laws. In the account of the formation of the monarchy, in the books of Samuel , the prophet of Yahweh, Samuel, tells the Israelites that they are committing an act of disobedience that they will dearly pay for. Heedless of Samuel's warnings, they push ahead with the monarchy. The very first monarch, Saul, sets the pattern for the rest; disobedient towards Yahweh's commands, Saul falls out with both Samuel and Yahweh and gradually slips into arbitrary despotism. This pattern—the conflict between Yahweh and the kings of Israel and Judah—becomes the historical pattern in the Hebrew stories of the prophetic revolution.

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Prophetic Revolution

Whatever the causes, a group of religious leaders during the eighth and seventh centuries BC responded to the crisis created by the institution of the monarchy by reinventing and reorienting the Yahweh religion. In Hebrew, these religious reformers were called "nivea," or "prophets." The most important of these prophets were Amos, Hosea, Isaiah (who is actually three people: Isaiah and "Second Isaiah" [Deutero-Isaiah], and a third, post-exilic Isaiah), and Micah. These four, and a number of lesser prophets, are as important to the Hebrew religion as Moses. The innovations of the prophets can be grouped into three large categories: Monotheism Whatever the character of Mosaic religion during the occupation and the early monarchy, the prophets unambiguously made Yahweh the one and only one god of the universe. Earlier, Hebrews acknowledged and even worshipped foreign gods; the prophets, however, asserted that Yahweh ruled the entire universe and all the peoples in it, whether or not they recognized and worshipped Yahweh or not. The Yahweh religion as a monotheistic religion can really be dated no earlier than the prophetic revolution.

Righteousness While Yahweh is subject to anger, capriciousness, and outright injustice in the earlier Mosaic religion, the Yahweh of the prophets can do nothing but good and right and justice. Yahweh becomes in the prophetic revolution a "god of righteousness"; historical events, no matter how arbitrary or unjust they may seem, represent the justice of Yahweh. The good and the just are always rewarded, and the evil are always punished. If there is any evil in the world it is through the actions of men and women, not through the actions of Yahweh, that it is committed.

Ethics

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Prophetic Revolution

While the Mosaic religion was overwhelmingly concerned with the cultic rules to be followed by the Israelites, the prophets re-centered the religion around ethics. Ritual practices, in fact, become unimportant next to ethical demands that Yahweh imposes on humans: the necessity of doing right, showing mercy, punishing evil, and doing justice. There still, however, is no afterlife of rewards and punishments in the prophets, but a kind of House of Dust, called Sheol, to which all souls go after their death to abide for a time before disappearing from existence forever. There is no salvation, only the injunctions to do justice and right in order to produce a just and harmonious society. The historical origins of these innovations are important to understand. The monarchy brought with it all the evils of a centralized state: arbitrary power, vast inequality of wealth, poverty in the midst of plenty, heavy taxation, slavery, bribery, and fear. The prophets were specifically addressing these corrupt and fearsome aspects of the Jewish state. They believed, however, that they were addressing these problems by returning to the Mosaic religion; in reality, they created a brand new religion, a monotheistic religion not about cultic practices, but about right and wrong.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: Post-Exilic Religion

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: Post-Exilic Religion (~800-600 BC)

The most profound spiritual and cognitive crisis in Hebrew history was the Exile. Defeated by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, the Judaean population was in part deported to Babylon, mainly the upper classes and craftsmen. In 586, incensed by Judaeans shifting their loyalty, Nebuchadnezzar returned, lay siege to Jerusalem, and burned it down along with the Temple. Nothing in the Hebrew world view had prepared them for a tragedy of this magnitude. The Hebrews had been promised the land of Palestine by their god; in addition, the covenant between Yahweh and Abraham promised Yahweh's protection. The destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the deportation of the Judaeans, shook the Hebrew faith to its roots. The literature of the Exile and shortly after betrays the despair and confusion of the population uprooted from its homeland. In Lamentations and various Psalms, we get a profound picture of the sufferings of those left in Judaea, who coped with starvation and massive privation, and the community of Hebrews wandering Babylon. In Job, a story written a century or so after the Exile, the central character suffers endless calamities— when he finally despairs of Yahweh's justice, his only answer is that Yahweh is not to be questioned. But Hebrew religion shifted profoundly in the years of Exile. A small group of religious reformers believed that the calamaties suffered by the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Exilic.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:38:00

The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: Post-Exilic Religion

Jews were due to the corruption of their religion and ethics. These religious reformers reoriented Jewish religion around the Mosaic books; in other words, they believed that the Jews should return to their foundational religion. While the Mosaic books had been in existence since the seventh or eighth centuries BC, they began to take final shape under the guidance of these reformers shortly after the Exile. Above everything else, the Torah, the five Mosaic books, represented all the law that Hebrews should follow. These laws, mainly centered around cultic practices, should remain pure and unsullied if the Jews wished to return to their homeland and keep it. So the central character of post-Exilic Jewish religion is reform, an attempt to return religious and social practice back to its original character. This reform was accelerated by the return to Judaea itself; when Cyrus the Persian conquered the Chaldeans in 539, he set about reestablishing religions in their native lands. This included the Hebrew religion. Cyrus ordered Jerusalem and the Temple to be rebuilt, and in 538 BC, he sent the Judaeans home to Jerusalem for the express purpose of worshipping Yahweh . The reformers, then, occupied a central place in Jewish thought and life all during the Persian years (539-332 BC). Beneath the surface, though, foreign elements creeped in to the Hebrew religion. While the reformers were busy trying to purify the Hebrew religion, the Persian religion, Zoroastrianism, creeped into it among the common run of people. Why this happened is anyone's guess, but Zoroastrianism offered a world view that both explained and mollified tragedies such as the Exile. It seems that the Hebrews adopted some of this world view in the face of the profound disasters they had weathered. Zoroastrianism, which had been founded in the seventh century BC by a Persian prophet name Zarathustra (Zoroaster is his Greek name), was a dualistic, eschatological, and apocalyptic religion. The universe is divided into two distinct and independent spheres. One, which is light and good, is ruled by a deity who is the principle of light and good; the other, dark and evil, is ruled by a deity who is the principle of dark and evil. The whole of human and cosmic history is an epic struggle between these two independent deities; at the end of time, a final battle between these two deities and all those ranged on one side or the other, would permanently decide the outcome of this struggle. The good deity, Ahura-Mazda, would win this final, apocalyptic battle, and all the gods and humans on the side of good would enjoy eternal bliss.

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The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: Post-Exilic Religion

Absolutely none of these elements were present in Hebrew religion before the Exile. The world is governed solely by Yahweh; evil in the world is solely the product of human actions—there is no "principle of evil" among the Hebrews before the Exile. The afterlife is simply a House of Dust called Sheol in which the soul lasts for only a brief time. There is no talk or conception of an end of time or history, or of a world beyond this one. After the Exile, however, popular religion among the Judaeans and the Jews of the Diaspora include several innovations: Dualism After the Exile, the Hebrews invent a concept of a more or less dualistic universe, in which all good and right comes from Yahweh, while all evil arises from a powerful principle of evil. Such a dualistic view of the universe helps to explain tragedies such as the Exile. Eschatology and Apocalypticism Popular Jewish religion begins to form an elaborate theology of the end of time, in which a deliverer would defeat once and for all the forces of evil and unrighteousness. Messianism Concurrent with the new eschatology, there is much talk of a deliverer who is called "messiah," or "anointed one." In Hebrew culture, only the head priest and the king were anointed, so this "messiah" often combined the functions of both religious and military leader. Otherworldliness Popular Judaism adopts an elaborate after-life. Since justice does not seem to occur in this world, it is only logical that it will occur in another world. The afterlife becomes the place where good is rewarded and evil eternally punished. While the reformers resist these innovations, they take hold among a large part of the Hebrew population. And it is from this root — the religion of the common person — that a radical form of Yahwism will grow: the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Exilic.html (3 of 4)2/11/2004 13:38:00

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religion of Jesus of Nazareth.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Amalekites

The Amalekites This nomadic nation was, in ancient times, Israel's eternal foe. Shortly after the Israelites left Egypt and were wondering the desert, the Amalekites attacked the weary nation, slaughtering the weak and elderly. The Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, later avenged the attack and defeated the Amalekites, but failed to completely eradicate the nation. Israel was then plagued with raids Amalekite raids. Today, the name Amalek is a symbol for evil and hatred against Jews, and Haman, the Persian leader who vowed to destroy all Jews, is considered a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites.

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Ammonites

The Ammonites After a period of nomadic existence, the Ammonites settled north of the Moabite kingdom in the 13th century BCE and founded their capital city Rabbath Ammon (present day Amman). Like their neighbors to the south, the Ammonites often attacked the newly settled Jewish empire in Canaan. Similarly, after the destruction of the First Temple, Ammonite king Baalis instigated the murder of Gedaliah, ensuring the downfall of the Jewish nation. The Ammonites were also involved in the Hasmonean conflict, in which Judah the Maccabee defeated Syrian and Ammonite forces.

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Amorites

The Amorites The Amorites were one of the seven nations defeated by Joshua in his conquest of Canaan. The Amorites lived in southern Syria and were a militant nation, who invaded Mesopotamia at the end of the third millennium and captured Babylon soon thereafter. As they developed kingdoms on their newly conquered land, the Amorites' culture assimilated with that of mainstream Babylonia. The Bible also mentions the Amorites, saying that Moses captured two Amorite kingdoms (Heshbon and Bashan).

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Arameans

The Arameans By far the most lasting impact the Arameans had on the Middle East was the language that, via cultural diffusion, they imprinted on the ancient middle eastern societies. The Arameans inhabited the Fertile Crescent (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) in the 14th century BCE, but did not begin seriously influencing the region until three centuries later, when they began to spread into southern Anatolia and northern Arabia, which were Assyrian territories. The Arameans were a military force until about the 9th century BCE, when they fell to the attacking Assyrians. Although the Aramean nation fell, its language did not; Aramaic, which is very similar to Hebrew, was adopted not only by Babylonian Jews as the "Jewish tongue," but also by the well-informed as the language of choice. It was not until Greek emerged several centuries later that Aramaic lost its prestige as the most sophisticated language. Jewish practices still performed in Aramaic include the Ketubah (wedding contract), the Get (the divorce contract), and the Kaddish (mourner's prayer). Interestingly, much of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) is written in Aramaic. Also, the Talmud is written in a combination of Aramaic and Hebrew. Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Assyrians

The Assyrians (1170-612 BC)

The Assyrians were Semitic people living in the northern reaches of Mesopotamia; they have a long history in the area, but for most of that history they are subjugated to the more powerful kingdoms and peoples to the south. Under the monarch, Shamshi-Adad, the Assyrians attempted to build their own empire, but Hammurabi soon crushed the attempt and the Assyrians disappear from the historical stage. Eventually the Semitic peoples living in northern Mesopotamia were invaded by another Asiatic people, the Hurrians, who migrated into the area and began to build an empire of their own. But the Hurrian dream of empire was soon swallowed up in the dramatic growth of the Hittite empire, and the young Hurrian nation was swamped. After centuries of attempts at independence, the Assyrians finally had an independent state of their own since the Hittites did not annex Assyrian cities. For the next several hundred years, the balance of power would shift from the north to the south Beginning with the monarch, Tukulti-Ninurta (1235-1198 BC), Assyria began its first conquests, in this case the conquest of Babylon. The Assyrian dream of empire began with the monarch, Tiglat-Pileser (11161090), who extended Assyrian dominance to Syria and Armenia. But the greatest period of conquest occurred between 883 and 824, under the monarchies of Ashurnazirpal II (883-859 BC) and Shalmeneser III (858824 BC), who conquered all of Syria and Palestine, all of Armenia, and, the prize of prizes, Babylon and southern Mesopotamia. The Assyrian conquerors invented a new policy towards the conquered: in order to prevent nationalist revolts by the conquered people, the Assyrians would force the people they conquered to migrate in large numbers to other areas http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Assyrians.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:38:35

The Assyrians

of the empire. Besides guaranteeing the security of an empire built off of conquered people of different cultures and languages, these mass deportations of the populations in the Middle East, Mesopotamia, and Armenia, turned the region into a melting pot of diverse cultures, religions, and languages. Whereas there would be little cultural contact between the conquered and the conquerors in early Mesopotamian history, under the Assyrians the entire area became a vast experiment in cultural mixing. It was the Assyrian monarch, Sargon II (721-705 BC), who first forcefully relocated Hebrews after the conquest of Israel, the northern kingdom of the Hebrews. Although this was a comparatively mild deportation and perfectly in line with Assyrian practice, it marks the historical beginning of the Jewish diaspora. This chapter in the Jewish diaspora, however, never has been really written, for the Hebrews deported from Israel seem to have blended in with Assyrian society and, by the time Nebuchadnezzar II conquers Judah (587 BC), the southern kingdom of the Hebrews, the Israelites deported by Sargon II have disappeared nameless and faceless into the sands of northern Mesopotamia. The monarchs of Assyria, who hated Babylon with a passion since it constantly contemplated independence and sedition, destroyed that city and set up their capital in Nineveh. Later, however, feeling that the Babylonian god, Marduk, was angry at them, they rebuilt the city and returned the idol of Marduk to a temple in Babylon. The last great monarch of Assyria was Ashurbanipal (668-626 BC), who not only extended the empire, but also began a project of assembling a library of tablets of all the literature of Mesopotamia. Thirty thousand tablets still remain of Ashurbanipal's great library in the city of Nineveh; these tablets are our single greatest source of knowledge of Mesopotamian culture, myth, and literature. After Ashurbanipal, the great Assyrian empire began to crumble; the greatest pressure on the empire came from their old and bitter enemies, the Babylonians. Aided by another Semitic people, the Medes, the Babylonians led by Nabopolassar eventually conquered the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and burned it to the ground, ending forever Assyrian dominance in the region.

The Assyrian State Simply put, the Assyrian state was forged in the crucible of war, invasion, and conquest. The upper, land-holding classes consisted almost entirely of

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The Assyrians

military commanders who grew wealthy from the spoils taken in war. The army was the largest standing army ever seen in the Middle East or Mediterranean. The exigencies of war excited technological innovation which made the Assyrians almost unbeatable: iron swords, lances, metal armor, and battering rams made them a fearsome foe in battle.

Science and Mathematics The odd paradox of Assyrian culture was the dramatic growth in science and mathematics; this can be in part explained by the Assyrian obsession with war and invasion. Among the great mathematical inventions of the Assyrians were the division of the circle into 360 degrees and were among the first to invent longitude and latitude in geographical navigation. They also developed a sophisticated medical science which greatly influenced medical science as far away as Greece. See also Map of the Assyrian Empire

Source: Mesopotamia from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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Revival of the Assyrian Empire under Tiglath-Pileser

Revival of the Assyrian Empire under TiglathPileser (745-730 B.C.E.) by Andrew Taylor

The Assyrian Empire was once a mighty power. The empire thrived for a few hundred years, before declining around 1200 B.C.E.. Starting in the year 745 B.C.E., the Assyrian Empire began to revive behind the leadership of Tiglath-Pileser. Tiglath-Pileser began by marching his army into Babylon in 745. He then attacked all the tribes around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, including the Chaldeans, Arabs, and Arameans. In the year 744, Tiglath-Pileser attacked the Persians and conquered many of their tribes. After doing so, he returned to Assyria with 50000 prisoners, as well as a large number of horses, oxen, sheep, and other animals. In the year 743, Tiglath-Pileser conquered the army of Sardari and captured 73,000 soldiers. He then proceeded to enter the Syrian city of Arpad, where all the kings of Upper Syria paid him tribute because of his power. In the year 735, Tiglath-Pileser marched his army into Ararat and conquered it. Also during that year, Syria and Israel formed an alliance and attacked Judah. Ahaz, the king of Judah, sent messengers to Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, carrying tribute and asking Tiglath-Pileser for his help against Syria and Israel. Tiglath-Pileser accepted his offer and in the year 734, he marched his army into Syria and found the army of Rezon, a Syrian king, waiting for him. Tiglath-Pileser completely annihilated this http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Assyrians1.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:38:36

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army and laid siege to Damascus. He left part of his army at Damascus to continue the siege, and set out with the rest to attack Israel. He plundered Israel and the Israelite king, Pekah, took refuge in Samaria. He also conquered the Ammonites and the Moabites, and placed them under tribute. Tiglath-Pileser then marched toward Gaza. When the king of Gaza, Hanun, heard this, he fled to Egypt. Tiglath-Pileser occupied Gaza, but eventually allowed Hanun to return, and placed him under tribute. Also in the year 734, he conquered many of the Arab tribes under Queen Samsi’s rule. In the year 732, the siege of Damascus was completed. Damascus now was in Assyrian hands. After Damascus fell, Tiglath-Pileser invaded Babylon again. In the year 730, Assyria was the undisputed power in the Middle East. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bibliography Rawlinson, G. The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, (Chicago, New York, Belford, Clarke, and Co. 1887). Rogers, R.W. A History of Babylonia and Assyria, (New York, Eaton and Mains, 1900). Edited, Researched and Written by: Andrew Taylor, ataylor1@student. northpark.edu, October 6, 1998

Source: WebChronology Project

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The Canaanites

The Canaanites Canaan is the ancient name for the land of Israel. The Torah gave Abraham the land of Canaan, which in some cases stretched from southern Syria to the Eastern Sinai and, in other Torah references, was only a small strip hugging the Mediterranean. Under the leadership of Joshua the Israelites conquered Canaan, which had previously been divided into seven city states. Today, the land of Canaan is known as Palestine, Eretz Yisrael and Israel.

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Chaldeans

The Chaldeans (612-539 BC)

After the fall of Assyrian power in Mesopotamia, the last great group of Semitic peoples dominated the area. Suffering mightily under the Assyrians, the city of Babylon finally rose up against its hated enemy, the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, and burned it to the ground. The chief of the Babylonians was Nabopolassar; the Semites living in the northern part of Mesopotamia would never gain their independence again. Nabopolassar was succeeded by his son, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC). Nebuchadnezzar was the equal of all the great Mesopotamian conquerors, from Sargon onwards; he not only prevented major powers such as Egypt and Syria from making inroads on his territory, he also conquered the Phoenicians and the state of Judah (586 BC), the southern Jewish kingdom that remained after the subjugation of Israel, the northern kingdom, by the Assyrians. In order to secure the territory of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar brought Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, the two kings of Judah (in succession) and held them in Babylon. In keeping with Assyrian practice, the "New Babylonians," or Chaldeans forced a large part of the Jewish population to relocate. Numbering possibly up to 10,000, these Jewish deportees were largely upper class people and craftspeople; this deportation marks the beginning of the Exile in Jewish history. Under Nebuchadnezzar, the city of Babylon was rebuilt with great splendor; it would eventually become one of the most magnificent human cities in the area of the Middle East and Mediterranean. But all was not

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perfect beneath the shining surface; there still existed a number of cities that were loyal to the Assyrians. The entire period dominated by the Babylonians, in fact, is a period of great unrest as Babylonian hegemony was continually tested by philo-Assyrians. This conflict slammed the door on the Babylonian empire after a dynasty of only five kings. Babylon in 555 BC came under the control of a king loyal to the Assyrians, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), who attacked Babylonian culture at its heart: he placed the Assyrian moon-god, Sin, above the Babylonian's principal god, Marduk, who symbolized not only the faith of Babylon but the very city and people itself. Angered and bitter, the priests and those faithful to Babylon would welcome Cyrus the Conqueror of Persia into their city and end forever Semitic domination of Mesopotamia. The center of the Middle Eastern world shifted to Cyrus's capital, Susa, and it would shift again after the Greeks and then the Romans. For almost two and a half centuries, Mesopotamia and Babylon at its center, dominated the landscape of early civilization in the Middle East to be finally eclipsed by the rising sun of the Indo-European cultures to the north and to the west.

Source: Mesopotamia from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

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The Edomites

The Edomites Traditional enemies of the Israelites, the Edomites were the descendants of Esau who often battled the Jewish nation. Edom was in southeast Palestine, stretched from the Red Sea at Elath to the Dead Sea, and encompassed some of Israel's most fertile land. The Edomites attacked Israel under Saul's rulership. King David would later defeat the rogue nation, annexing their land. At the fall of the First Temple, the Edomites attacked Judah and looted the Temple, accelerating its destruction. The Edomites were later forcibly converted into Judaism by John Hyrcanus, and then became an active part of the Jewish people. Famous Edomites include Herod, who built the Second Temple.

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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Greeks and Jews

Greeks and Jews (332-63 BC)

In the Table of Nations in Genesis 10.1-32, which lists the descendants of Noah and the nations they founded, the Greeks appear under the name "Yavan," who is a son of Yaphet. Yavan is parallel with the Greek word, "Ionia," the Greek region of Asia Minor; "Yaphet" is parallel with the Greek word, "Iapetus," who is the mythological father of Prometheus in Greek legend. Two other Greek nations appear in the table: Rhodes (Rodanim) and Cyprus (Kittim and Elishah). The sons of Shem, brother to Yaphet, are the Semitic (named after Shem) nations, including the Hebrews. Imagine, if you will, the Hebrew vision of history. At some point, in the dim recesses of time, after the world had been destroyed by flood, the nations of the earth were all contained in the three sons of Noah. Their sons and grandsons all knew one another, spoke the same language, ate the same mails, worshipped the same god. How odd and unmeasurably strange it must have been, then, when after an infinite multitude of generations and millennia of separation, the descendants of Yavan moved among the descendants of Shem!

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They came unexpectedly. After two centuries of serving as a vassal state to Persia, Judah suddenly found itself the vassal state of Macedonia, a Greek state. Alexander the Great had conquered Persia and had, in doing so, conquered most of the world. For most of the world belonged to Persia; in a blink of an eye, it now fell to the Greeks. This great Greek empire would last no longer than Alexander's brief life; after his death, altercations between his generals led to the division of his empire among three generals. One general, Antigonus and then later Ptolemy, inherited Egypt; another, Seleucus, inherited the Middle East and Mesopotamia. After two centuries of peace under the Persians, the Hebrew state found itself once more caught in the middle of power struggles between two great empires: the Seleucid state with its capital in Syria to the north and the Ptolemaic state, with its capital in Egypt to the south. Once more, Judah would be conquered first by one, and then by the other, as it shifted from being a Seleucid vassal state to a Ptolemaic vassal state. Between 319 and 302 BCE, Jerusalem changed hands seven times. Like all others in the region, the Jews bitterly resented the Greeks. They were more foreign than any group they had ever seen. In a state founded on maintaining the purity of the Hebrew religion, the gods of the Greeks seemed wildly offensive. In a society rigidly opposed to the exposure of the body, the Greek practice of wrestling in the nude and deliberately dressing light must have been appalling! In a religion that specifically singles out homosexuality as a crime

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against Yahweh, the Greek attitude and even preference for homosexuality must have been incomprehensible. In general, though, the Greeks left the Jews alone; adopting Cyrus's policy, they allowed the Jews to run their own country, declared that the law of Judah was the Torah, and attempted to preserve Jewish religion. When the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, desecrated the Temple in 168 BCE, he touched off a Jewish revolt under the Maccabees; for a brief time, Judah became an independent state again. During this period, Jewish history takes place in several areas: in Judah, in Mesopotamia and other parts of the Middle East, and Egypt. For the dispersion of the Jews had begun during the Exile, and large, powerful groups of Jews lived all throughout the Persian empire and later the Hellenistic kingdoms ("Hellenistic"="Greek"). The Greeks brought with them a brand new concept: the "polis," or "city-state." Among the revolutionary ideas of the polis was the idea of naturalization . In the ancient world, it was not possible to become a citizen of a state if you weren't born in that state. If you were born in Israel, and you moved to Tyre, or Babylon, or Egypt, you were always an Israelite. Your legal status in the country you're living in would be "foreigner" or "sojourner." The Greeks, however, would allow foreigners to become citizens in the polis ; it became possible all throughout the Middle East for Hebrews and others to become citizens of states other than Judah. This is vital for understanding the Jewish dispersion; for the rights of citizenship (or near-citizenship, called polituemata ), allowed Jews to remain outside of Judaea and still thrive. In many foreign cities throughout the Hellenistic world, the Jews formed unified and solid communities; Jewish women enjoyed more rights and autonomy in these communities rather than at home.

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The most important event of the Hellenistic period, though, is the translation of the Torah into Greek in Ptolemaic Egypt. The Greeks, in fact, were somewhat interested (not much) in the Jewish religion, but it seems that they wanted a copy of the Jewish scriptures for the library at Alexandria. During the Exile, the Exiles began to purify their religion and practices and turned to the Mosaic books as their model. After the Exile, the Torah became the authoritative code of the Jews, recognized first by Persia and later by the Greeks as the Hebrew "law." In 458 BCE, Artaxerxes I of Persia made the Torah the "law of the Judaean king." So the Greeks wanted a copy and set about translating it. Called the Septuagint after the number of translators it required ("septuaginta" is Greek for "seventy"), the text is far from perfect. The Hebrew Torah had not settled down into a definitive version, and a number of mistranslations creep in for reasons ranging from political expediency to confusion. For instance, the Hebrew Torah is ruthlessly anti-Egyptian; after all, the founding event of the Hebrew people was the oppression of the Hebrews by the Egyptians and the delivery from Egypt. The Septuagint translators—who are, after all, working for the Greek rulers of Egypt—go about effacing much of the anti-Egyptian aspects. On the other hand, there are words they can't translate into Greek, such as "berit," which they translate "diatheke," or "promise" (in Latin and English, the word is incorrectly translated "covenant"). Despite these imperfections, the Septuagint is a watershed in Jewish history. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Greeks.html (4 of 5)2/11/2004 13:38:46

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More than any other event in Jewish history, this translation would make the Hebrew religion into a world religion. It would otherwise have faded from memory like the infinity of Semitic religions that have been lost to us. This Greek version made the Hebrew scriptures available to the Mediterranean world and to early Christians who were otherwise fain to regard Christianity as a religion unrelated to Judaism. Even with a Greek translation, the Hebrew scriptures came within a hair's breadth of being tossed out of the Christian canon. From this Greek translation, the Hebrew view of God, of history, of law, and of the human condition, in all its magnificence would spread around the world. The dispersion, or Diaspora, of the Jews would involve ideas as well as people.

Source: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission. Maps courtesy of Prof. Eliezer Segal's site.

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Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.)

Alexander the Great, born in 356 BCE in Pella, Macedonia, was the son of Philip of Macedon and Princess Olympias of Epirus. As a young boy he was always fearless, strong, and eager to learn. He went on to inherit each of his parents best qualities. His father was an excellent general and organizer, while his mother was extremely intelligent. At the age of thirteen he became a pupil of Aristotle. It was Aristotle who inspired Alexander's great love for literature. Through his mentor Alexander learned the Greek ways of living and the ideals of Greek civilization. However, it was not all work and no play for the young Alexander. He spent a great deal of time participating in sports and daily exercise to develop a strong body. At a fairly young age Alexander was given many responsibilities. His father made him his ambassador to Athens when he was eighteen. Two years later he became the King of Macedonia. During this time the Greek states had become restless under Macedonian rule. While Alexander was away fighting, the people of Thebes seized the opportunity and revolted. When Alexander returned he attacked the city and destroyed almost everything in sight. This dissipated any further attempts at rebellion and Alexander quickly united the Greek cities and formed the League of Nations, of which he became president. Soon after this victory, Alexander set out to conquer Persia. On the banks of the Granicus River Alexander quickly defeated the Persian troops who had been waiting for him. This victory made the rest of Asia Minor vulnerable. In 333 BCE Alexander marched into Syria. Even though http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Alexander.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:38:48

Alexander the Great

Darius III, King of Persia, had raised a large army he was unable to withstand Alexander's powerful infantry and phalanx. The entire region soon submitted to Alexander. Following this he went to Egypt, where he was welcomed as a deliverer because the Egyptians hated their cruel Persian rulers. It was here that Alexander founded the famous city that bears his name. Alexandria, situated on a strip of land between Lake Mareotis and the Mediterranean Sea, became a world center of commerce and learning. Alexander was soon drawn into battle with the Persians again. In the decisive Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander routed Darius and forced his entire army east. After this the city of Babylon surrendered, which allowed Alexander to easily capture Susa and Persepolis. Darius was soon killed by one of his generals which made Alexander King of Asia. He did not rest for long, as he had set his sights on India. In 326 BCE Alexander defeated Porus, the prince of India. Alexander was now at the height of his power. His empire stretched from the Ionian Sea to northern India. However, Alexander had even greater plans. He wanted to combine Asia and Europe into one country, and named Babylon the new capital. In order to attain this goal he encouraged intermarriages, did away with corrupt officials, and spread Greek ideas, customs, and laws into Asia. The great and many plans that he had abruptly came to an end. While in Babylon Alexander became seriously ill with malaria and on June 13, 323 BCE he died. During his time he conquered most of the civilized world and has been remembered as one of the greatest generals in history.

Source: WebChronology Project

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The Hittites

The Hittites Like the Amorites, the Hittites were one of the nations conquered by the Israelites. At their peak in 1500 BCE, the Hittites' kingdom stretched from Asia Minor to southern Syria. There are many parallels between the Egyptian and Hittite cultures: Both kingdoms centered their cities along a dominant river (the Nile and Euphrates, respectively), both believed their king to be an emissary of God, and both practiced feudalistic systems which included slavery. There are several interactions between the Hittites and the Israelites in the Torah, including when Abraham purchases a cave from Machpelah, a Hittite as well as when Esau takes a Hittite wife. Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Medes

The Medes The kingdom of Media was located in the region between the southwest Caspian sea and the Persian Gulf. Biblical sources, as well as Greek historians, often confused the Median kingdom with the nearby Persians. The Median tribe cooperated with the Babylonians but, in the 6th century BCE, were defeated by Cyrus of Persia.

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Midianites

The Midianites The son of Abraham and Keturah, Midian began a nomadic tribe which wandered the banks of the Red Sea as well as the Syrian desert. The Midianites had a close relationship with the Jewish people. For example, when Moses fled from Pharaoh, he went to the Midians and married Tzipporah, the daughter of a Medianite priest. Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Moabites

The Moabites

According to the Bible, Moab was the son of Lot, and therefore the nation of Moab was related to the Israelites (Genesis 19:30-38). The Moabites, who settled east of the Dead Sea (present day Jordan), had a highly developed culture, and artifacts written in Hebrew bearing Moabite inscriptions support the widely held view that the Moabites spoke the biblical language. During the Exodus period, part of the Moab kingdom was taken by the Amorites; Israel would later capture the territory. This parcel of land then became the object of contention and exacerbated animosity between the two nations. One example of the feud between the two nations is the story in the Torah of Balaam, who was sent by Moabite king Balak to curse the Jewish nation.

Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The New Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Behrman House, Inc. 1976. Schreiber, Mordecai (ed.). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. Shengold Books. 1998. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1991.

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The Moabites

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The Nabatean Kings

The Nabatean Kings

The fall of the kingdom of Judea was followed by the rise of the Nabateans beginning in the fourth century B.C.E. These traders traveled in caravans from Arabia and made their capital Petra, in what is now southern Jordan. They eventually controlled trade in perfumes and spices and built numerous fortresses along the branch of the Spice Route in the Negev Desert.

Aretas I The first known Nabatean king. His name appears on the earliest Nabatean inscription discovered to date, a 168 BCE carving found in Halutza. He is also mentioned in 2 Maccabees 5:8. The passage relates that Jason, the high priest who established a Hellenistic polis in Jerusalem, was held prisoner by Aretas I after being forced to leave the city. Rabel I Aretas I's successor, whose reign began c. 140 BCE. His name is known from a statue dedicated to him in Petra.

Aretas II Rabel I's successor. His reign began in 120 or I 10 BCE and he ruled until 96 BCE. Aretas 11 was a contemporary of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus, whose expansionist policies were a direct threat to the Nabatean http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/nabkings.html (1 of 3)2/11/2004 13:38:58

The Nabatean Kings

kingdom.

Obodas (Avdat) I Obodas I ascended the throne in 90 BCE and defeated Alexander Jannaeus in a battle on the Golan Heights-probably the key to the Nabatean return to the Negev. The town of Oboda (Avdat) was named for the victor, who was worshiped as a god even after his death.

Aretas III (87-62 BCE) Hostilities between the Hasmoneans and the Nabateans came to a head with the rise to power of Aretas III. In 84 BCE he conquered Damascus. He later invaded the Hasmonean kingdom and defeated Alexander Jannaeus at Hadid (a few kilometers east of Ben-Gurion Airport). The latter retaliated by capturing Nabatean cities in Moab and attacking the Bashan and Gilead. Alexander was succeeded by his wife Shlomtzion; after her death, her sons Hyrcanus and Aristobolus fought over the throne, which the latter finally ascended. Hyrcanus fled to Aretas III, with whom he forged an alliance. In 65 BCE the Nabatean army besieged Jerusalem, but its attack was to end the following year when the Romans appeared in the East. The two Hasmonean brothers took their case to Pompey, who sent Scaurus to Jerusalem to force a Nabatean retreat.

Obodas II Obodas II's existence was uncertain for years, until an inscription recently found east of the Suez Canal confirmed it. He probably ruled for only a few months.

Malichus I (60-30 BCE) Obodas II's son. In 40 BCE he helped the Parthians overrun Syria and Palestine. After the Romans expelled the Parthians in 34 BCE, they confiscated Malichus's date groves around Jericho and his Red Sea harbors. Herod also fought Malichus, defeating his army near Philadelphia (present-day Amman).

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This king's reign was an era of cultural flowering for the Nabatean kingdom. Under him, most of its temples were built, including that at Avdat. It was during his days that the Romans attempted to discover the sources of the perfume and spice trade.

Aretas IV (9 BCE-40 CE) Aretas IV was the greatest of the Nabatean kings. During his reign, large religious centers-also serving as banks and clearinghouses-were established on the Hauran, in Petra, and at Avdat. Aretas's daughter married Herod Antipas, tetrarch of the Galilee. When Antipas took another wife, Herodias, Aretas's daughter returned to her father, who went to war against the Jewish tetrarch and defeated him. Antipas appealed to Emperor Tiberius, who dispatched the governor of Syria to attack Aretas. The episode was an important factor in the beheading of John the Baptist. Aretas is mentioned by Paul in connection with his visit to Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32).

Malichus II (40-70 CE) In Malichus's time, Nabatean trade dwindled as the Romans diverted the perfume and spice cargos to Egypt. Malichus sent 5,000 horsemen and 1,000 soldiers to help Titus quash the Jewish revolt.

Rabel II (70-105) Rabel II was the last of the Nabatean kings; Emperor Trajan deemed his death the right moment to annex the Nabatean kingdom. On March 22, 105, it was incorporated into the new Roman province of Provincia Arabia.

Source: Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, Scented Cities: The Nabatean Negev, (Israel: Eretz ha-Tzvi, 1999)

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The Persians

The Persians By Mitchell Bard

The Babylonians ruled the world in the sixth century B.C. Yet, afterwards, in the course of about half a century, they ceased to exist. This is remarkable enough, but it is even more astounding that their successors, the Persians, had did not existed before! In 560 B.C., Cyrus the Great became the king of Persia, a small state in the Middle East, and within 30 years had replaced the Babylonian empire with his own. Cyrus also unexpectedly told the Jews that they could return to their homeland. While he was probably motivated primarily by the desire to have someone else rebuild Palestine and to make it a source of income for the Persian Empire, the impact on the Jews was to reinvigorate their faith and stimulate them to reconstruct the Temple in Jerusalem. The Second Temple was completed on the very site of the first Temple in 516 B.C. Though Cyrus allowed the Jews freedom to practice their religion, he would not permit them to reestablish the monarchy. Instead, Cyrus sent Zerubbabel, a prince of the house of David, along with 42,360 other exiles to establish what essentially became a theocracy, with Zerubbabel as High Priest. Over the next 150 years, Judea flourished as the Jews rebuilt Jerusalem and developed the surrounding areas. The Persians resisted any Jewish efforts to restore the monarchy, but allowed them a high degree of autonomy under the High Priest, whose power was partially checked by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Court, and the Popular Assemblies.

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The Persians

During this period, Judaism's Written Law took its final form. One of the key changes in the history of Judaism was the imposition at this time of a ban on intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. Though from that point to the present, the adherence to this rule has not been universal, it is one of the central tenets of Judaism and perhaps the most important reason for the survival of the Jewish people., Unlike other peoples, they did not disappear through assimilation and intermarriage. See also: The Persian Empire Map

Source: Bard, Mitchell G. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflicts. NY: MacMillan, 1999.

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Roman Rule

Roman Rule (63 BCE-313 CE)

When the Romans replaced the Seleucids as the great power in the region, they granted the Hasmonean king, Hyrcanus II, limited authority under the Roman governor of Damascus. The Jews were hostile to the new regime, and the following years witnessed frequent insurrections. A last attempt to restore the former glory of the Hasmonean dynasty was made by Mattathias Antigonus, whose defeat and death brought Hasmonean rule to an end (40 BCE), and the Land became a province of the Roman Empire. In 37 BCE, Herod, a son-in-law of Hyrcanus II, was appointed King of Judea by the Romans. Granted almost unlimited autonomy in the country's internal affairs, he became one of the most powerful monarchs in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. A great admirer of Greco-Roman culture, Herod launched a massive construction program, which included the cities of Caesarea and Sebaste and the fortresses at Herodium and Masada. He also remodeled the Temple into one of the most magnificent buildings of its time. But despite his many achievements, Herod failed to win the trust and support of his Jewish subjects. Ten years after Herod's death (4 BCE), Judea came under direct Roman administration. Growing anger against increased Roman suppression of Jewish life resulted in sporadic violence which esclated into a full-scale revolt in 66 CE. Superior Roman forces led by Titus were finally victorious, razing Jerusalem to the ground (70 CE) and defeating the last Jewish outpost at Masada (73 CE).

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Roman Rule

The total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was catastrophic for the Jewish people. According to the contemporary historian Josephus Flavius, hundreds of thousands of Jews perished in the siege of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country, and many thousands more were sold into slavery. A last brief period of Jewish sovereignty in ancient times followed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), during which Jerusalem and Judea were regained. However, given the overwhelming power of the Romans, the outcome was inevitable. Three years later, in conformity with Roman custom, Jerusalem was "plowed up with a yoke of oxen," Judea was renamed Palaestinia and Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina. Although the Temple had been destroyed and Jerusalem burned to the ground, the Jews and Judaism survived the encounter with Rome. The supreme legislative and judicial body, the Sanhedrin (successor of the Knesset Hagedolah) was reconvened in Yavneh (70 CE), and later in Tiberias. Without the unifying framework of a state and the Temple, the small remaining Jewish community gradually recovered, reinforced from time to time by returning exiles. Institutional and communal life was renewed, priests were replaced by rabbis and the synagogue became the focus of Jewish settlement, as evidenced by remnants of synagogues found at Capernaum, Korazin, Bar'am, Gamla and elsewhere. Halakhah (Jewish religious law) served as the common bond among the Jews and was passed on from generation to generation.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Edict of Augustus on Jewish Rights

Edict of Augustus on Jewish Rights (1 BCE)

Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: Since the nation of the Jews and Hyrcanus, their high priest, have been found grateful to the people of the Romans, not only in the present but also in the past, and particularly in the time of my father, Caesar, imperator, it seems good to me and to my advisory council, according to the oaths, by the will of the people of the Romans, that the Jews shall use their own customs in accordance with their ancestral law, just as they used to use them in the time of Hyrcanus, the high priest of their highest god; and that their sacred offerings shall be inviolable and shall be sent to Jerusalem and shall be paid to the financial officials of Jerusalem; and that they shall not give sureties for appearance in court on the Sabbath or on the day of preparation before it after the ninth hour. But if anyone is detected stealing their sacred books or their sacred monies, either from a synagogue or from a mens' apartment, he shall be considered sacrilegious and his property shall be brought into the public treasury of the Romans.

Source: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

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An Introduction to the City of Hebron

An Introduction to the City of Hebron

Hebron, Al-Khalil in Arabic, Chevron in Hebrew, is the heart of a wide hilly region. Some of its neighborhoods reach the altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. The Old City, also called Qasba in Arabic, and the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpela are situated on the northern flank of a valley, at an altitude of approximately 860m. This relatively high altitude grants the city cool weather during summertime and abundant rainfalls in winter. Agricultural areas surround the city. Farmers in the Hebron region usually cultivate fruits such as grapes and plums. In addition to agriculture, local economy relies on handicraft, small- and medium-scale industry and construction. Surrounded by towns as Halhul, Yatta, Dura, Al-Dhahariya, each counting more than 20,000 inhabitants, Hebron is one of the most important marketplaces in the Palestinian Territories.

Population Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the city has expanded dramatically, mostly along the roads leading to Jerusalem and Beersheva. In 1997, Hebron counted 120,000 inhabitants. This makes it the second most populated West Bank city after Jerusalem. The municipality borders http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/tiph5.html (1 of 6)2/11/2004 13:39:44

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delimit a territory of approximately 17 km2. Apart from Jewish settlers and Israeli troops, the population of the city is mostly Muslim. For centuries, however, an important Jewish community was part of Hebron society. This peaceful coexistence ended brutally with the 1929 riots, during which some 60 Hebronite Jews were killed. Subsequently, the British mandatory authorities transferred the Jewish population from the city. Hebron has the reputation of being a conservative and traditional city. No cinemas or places of entertainment can be found here. There are very few restaurants and coffeehouses, compared to other Palestinian cities. Nevertheless, the city enjoys a rich community life, with a number of popular institutions, such as women and youth groups, and art centers. Hebron also has its own university, founded in 1973, and a polytechnic school.

The Distinction between "H1" and "H2" In January 1997, after nearly thirty years of occupation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew from some 80 percent of the Hebron municipal territory. This redeployment, originally agreed upon in the Interim Agreement (Oslo II) of September 1995, was postponed for several months, until a new agreement - the "Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron" - was reached. In the meantime, most of the biggest West Bank cities had already been handed over to the Palestinian Authority.

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In the Hebron Protocol, a distinction is made between Hebron's "H1" and "H2" areas. The status of the largest part of the city, "H1", is similar to the one pertaining to "Area A". The Palestinian Police Forces (PPF) exercise full control over "H1", while the IDF are not allowed to enter, unless escorted by Palestinian security forces. Yet, the IDF maintain indirect control over this part of the city, by occasionally establishing checkpoints at entrances to the city, or by closing these points of access. "H1" covers residential sectors as well as the commercial areas of Bab Al-Zawiya and Wadi Al-Tuffah, situated west of the Old City. In the remaining part of the city, "H2", Israel maintains military presence, as well as control over various aspects of Palestinian daily life. Palestinian civil institutions operate under certain restrictions imposed by the Israeli military administration. When it comes to the PPF, they are only present when they participate in joint patrols led by the IDF. "H2" covers approximately 20 percent of the municipal territory. It comprises the entire Qasba and areas adjacent to the Jewish settlements. The population in this area is composed of an estimated 30,000-35,000 Palestinians and approximately 400 Jewish settlers. This relatively small sector is the geographic, economic, historic and religious center of Hebron.

Al-Shuhada Street and the Old City One main road runs through "H2" and connects the western to the eastern part of the city: Al-Shuhada Street. The traffic on this street, where three of the four Israeli settlements of Hebron are located, is tightly controlled by the IDF. Various restrictions are imposed on Palestinian motorists who want to use it. A bus station used to be located along Al-Shuhada Street. This popular meeting point was closed in 1986 and subsequently turned into an Israeli military compound. To this day, these successive measures http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/tiph5.html (3 of 6)2/11/2004 13:39:44

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have led to the virtual extinction of the economic activity along AlShuhada Street. In spite of being located inside the Israeli-controlled area of the city, the Souq situated inside the Qasba and behind Al-Shuhada Street remains one of the busiest in the West Bank. However, the wholesale vegetables market (Al-Hisbe), adjacent to the Souq, has also been closed by Israel, due to security considerations. The Qasba itself is no longer among the most densely populated areas of the city. Since the first half of the twentieth century, its population dropped from 8,000 to a few hundred. To reverse this evolution, the Palestinian local authorities have, since 1997, made a continuous effort to renovate, rehabilitate and develop the Old City. This led to an increase in the number of families moving into the Qasba. Similarly, efforts are being made to highlight its cultural heritage. Located northeast of the Old City, the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpela is included in the area under Israeli control, as are Islamic institutions, and a number of old mosques.

The Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpela The question of the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpela is among the most sensitive issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The sanctuary is dedicated to Abraham, the patriarch of both Arabs and Jews. Deep-rooted in Jewish tradition, the history of the Cave of Machpela takes on a special importance, as the site is believed to be the first piece of land bought by Abraham in the Promised Land. Since the Islamic conquest of the region, in the seventh century, the site is predominantly revered by Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi, the Abraham Sanctuary or Ibrahimi Mosque. For seven centuries, its access http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/tiph5.html (4 of 6)2/11/2004 13:39:44

An Introduction to the City of Hebron

was restricted to Muslim worshippers only. Jewish pilgrims were allowed to pray at a special location, outside the building. During the 1967 War, on the same day the Israeli troops entered Hebron, the IDF chaplain placed a Torah scroll inside the Mosque. This initiative made it possible for Jews to hold prayers and religious services in various parts of the sanctuary - sometimes at the same time and place as the Muslims. This move raised a wide indignation among the Arab public opinion and Muslim clergymen. According to them, the installation of a synagogue inside the sanctuary challenges the Muslim character of the site. The recent history of the site was marked by the massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers by a Kiryat Arba settler, in February 1994. An Israeli commission headed by Meir Shamgar examined the circumstances of the bloodshed. Its recommendations led to a number of new arrangements, such as the establishment of a physical separation between the worshippers of the two communities and the tightening of the security checks at the entrances. It was also decided that on an equal number of days a year, the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpela would be reserved for members of one community only.

Jewish Settlements Hebron is the only West Bank City where a number of Israelis have settled. In 1968, a group of Israelis occupied a small hotel in Hebron, expressing their intention to re-establish a Jewish community in Hebron. They failed to obtain an authorization from the Israeli military administration, but were granted the right to build a settlement on uninhabited land outside the city: Kiryat Arba. A few years later, in the early 1980s, Israelis received from the government the permission to dwell in old houses that used to belong to members of the old Hebronite Jewish community, to re-build parts of the run-down Jewish Quarter and to settle in houses of disputed ownership. Four small Israeli settlements have been established between 1979 and 1984 - in the Qasba, along Al-Shuhada Street and on top of the Tel Rumeida hill, overlooking the Old City. These settlements number less than fifty families, that is, approximately, 400 people. In addition, Hebron is bordered to the east by the large settlement of Kiryat Arba, whose population now reaches 6,000. Noteworthy, the settlements are all located either close to densely populated, or to busy commercial areas. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/tiph5.html (5 of 6)2/11/2004 13:39:44

An Introduction to the City of Hebron

The main task of the IDF in "H2" is the protection of the Jewish community. This task is achieved through a number of security measures imposed on the Palestinian population, such as observation posts on rooftops, checkpoints, intensive identity checks, and restrictions of traffic. The IDF also maintains a tight supervision on construction and rehabilitation works. Similarly, the Israeli military administration can impose restrictions of use and military orders on private houses, public premises and infrastructure.

Source: Temporary International Presence in Hebron

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The Cave of Machpelah - Tomb of the Patriarchs

The Cave of Machpelah Tomb of the Patriarchs

The Cave of Machpelah is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The cave and the adjoining field were purchased—at full market price—by Abraham some 3700 years ago. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are all later buried in the same Cave of Machpelah. These are considered the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth.

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The Cave of Machpelah - Tomb of the Patriarchs

The double cave, a mystery of thousands of years, was uncovered several years ago beneath the massive building, revealing artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago). The structure was built during the Second Temple Period (about two thousand years ago) by Herod, King of Judea, providing a place for gatherings and Jewish prayers at the graves of the Patriarchs. This uniquely impressive building is the only one that stands intact and still fulfills its original function after thousands of years. Foreign conquerors and invaders used the site for their own purposes, depending on their religious orientation: the Byzantines and Crusaders transformed it into a church and the Muslims rendered it a mosque. About 700 years ago, the Muslim Mamelukes conquered Hebron, declared the structure a mosque and forbade entry to Jews, who were not allowed past the seventh step on a staircase outside the building. Upon the liberation of Hebron in 1967, the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, the late Major-General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, was the first Jew to enter the Cave of Machpelah. Since then, Jews have been struggling to regain their prayer rights at the site, still run by the Muslim Waqf (Religious Trust) that took control during the Arab conquest. Many restrictions are imposed on Jewish prayers and customs at the Tomb of the Patriarchs despite the site's significance, primacy and sanctity in Jewish heritage and history. Over 300,000 people visit Ma'arat HaMachpelah annually. The structure is divided into three rooms: Ohel Avraham, Ohel Yitzhak, and Ohel Ya'akov. Presently Jews have no access to Ohel Yitzhak, the largest room, with the exception of 10 days a year.

Source: Jewish Community of Hebron and other historical sources.

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Hebron

Hebron

Hebron — located south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills — is home to approximately 130,000 Arabs, 530 Jews, and three Christians. An additional 6,000 Jews reside in the adjacent community of Kiryat Arba. Hebron is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, which dates back to Biblical times. The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham purchased the field where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah. According to Jewish tradition, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah are buried in the Tomb. Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history. It was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in Canaan. King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years. One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting. Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods. It was only in 1929 — as a result of a murderous Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder were forced to flee — that the city became

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temporarily "free" of Jews. After the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was reestablished. It has grown to include a range of religious and educational institutions. Hebron contains many sites of Jewish religious and historical significance, in addition to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. These include the Tombs of Othniel Ben Kenaz (the first Judge of Israel) and Avner Ben Ner (general and confidante to Kings Saul and David), and Ruth and Jesse (great-grandmother and father, respectively, of King David). Victims of the 1929 pogrom, as well as prominent rabbinical sages and community figures, are buried in Hebron's ancient Jewish cemetery. In recent years, Hebron has been the site of many violent incidents, two of which stand out. In May 1980, Palestinian terrorists murdered 6 Jewish yeshiva students and wounded 20 others, who were returning from prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. In February 1994, Dr. Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshippers at the Tomb, murdering 29 and wounding 125. After the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement ("Oslo II"), authority for most civil affairs regarding Hebron's arab residents was transferred from the Israeli Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority and the (Arab) Municipality of Hebron. Those services which remained the responsibility of the Civil Administration will be transferred following the IDF redeployment from Hebron. The IDF will retain sole responsibility for the security and well-being of Hebron's Jewish community.

I. INTRODUCTION Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) is located 32 km. south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills, and sits between 870 and 1,020 meters above sea level. The city is built on several hills and nahals/wadis, most of which run north- to-south. Hebron's monthly average temperatures are lower than those of Jerusalem. The city receives approximately 466 millimeters average rainfall annually. Its climate has — since Biblical times — encouraged extensive local agriculture. The Hebrew word "Hebron" is (inter alia) explained as being derived from the Hebrew word for "friend" ("haver"), a description for the Patriarch Abraham, who was considered to be the friend of God. The Arabic "Al- Khalil" — literally "the friend" — has a nearly identical derivation, and also refers to the Patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim), whom Muslims similarly describe as the friend of God. Hebron has approximately 130,000 (Sunni Muslim) Arab residents. Hebron's Jewish population, comprised of 45 Jewish families and around 150 yeshiva students, is about 500. Hebron's three Christian residents are the custodians of the city's Russian church. An additional 6,000 Jews live in the adjacent community of Kiryat Arba.

II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: BIBLICAL PERIOD TO 1967 Numbers 13:22 states that (Canaanite) Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian town of Zoan, i.e. around 1720 BCE, and the ancient (Canaanite and Israelite) city of Hebron was situated at Tel Rumeida. The city's history has been inseparably linked with the Cave of Machpelah, which the Patriarch Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for 400 silver shekels (Genesis 23), as a family tomb. As recorded in Genesis, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah and Leah, are buried there, and — according to a Jewish tradition — Adam and Eve are also buried there.

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Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible, and is the world's oldest Jewish community. Joshua assigned Hebron to Caleb from the tribe of Judah (Joshua 14:13-14), who subsequently led his tribe in conquering the city and its environs (Judges 1:1-20). As Joshua 14:15 notes, "the former name of Hebron was Kiryat Arba..." Following the death of King Saul, God instructed David to go to Hebron, where he was anointed King of Judah (II Samuel 2:1-4). A little more than 7.5 years later, David was anointed King over all Israel, in Hebron (II Samuel 5:1-3). The city was part of the united kingdom and — later — the southern Kingdom of Judah, until the latter fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Despite the loss of Jewish independence, Jews continued to live in Hebron (Nehemiah 11:25), and the city was later incorporated into the (Jewish) Hasmonean kingdom by John Hyrcanus. King Herod (reigned 37-4 BCE) built the base of the present structure — the 12 meter high wall — over the Tomb the Patriarchs. The city was the scene of extensive fighting during the Jewish Revolt against the Romans (65-70, see Josephus 4:529, 554), but Jews continued to live there after the Revolt, through the later Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 CE), and into the Byzantine period. The remains of a synagogue from the Byzantine period have been excavated in the city, and the Byzantines built a large church over the Tomb of the Patriarchs, incorporating the pre- existing Herodian structure. Jews continued to live in Hebron after the city's conquest by the Arabs (in 638), whose generally tolerant rule was welcomed, especially after the often harsh Byzantine rule — although the Byzantines never forbade Jews from praying at the Tomb. The Arabs converted the Byzantine church at the Tomb the Patriarchs into a mosque. Upon capturing the city in 1100, the Crusaders expelled the Jewish community, and converted the mosque at the Tomb back into a church. The Jewish community was re-established following the Mamelukes' conquest of the city in 1260, and the Mamelukes reconverted the church at the Tomb of the Patriarchs back into a mosque. However, the restored Islamic (Mameluke) ascendancy was less tolerant than the pre-Crusader Islamic (Arab) regimes — a 1266 decree barred Jews (and Christians) from entering the Tomb of the Patriarchs, allowing them only to ascend to the fifth, later the seventh, step outside the eastern wall. The Jewish cemetery -- on a hill west of the Tomb — was first mentioned in a letter dated to 1290. The Ottoman Turks' conquest of the city in 1517 was marked by a violent pogrom which included many deaths, rapes, and the plundering of Jewish homes. The surviving Jews fled to Beirut and did not return until 1533. In 1540, Jewish exiles from Spain acquired the site of the "Court of the Jews" and built the Avraham Avinu ("Abraham Our Father") synagogue. (One year — according to local legend — when the requisite quorum for prayer was lacking, the Patriarch Abraham himself appeared to complete the quorum; hence, the name of the synagogue.) Despite the events of 1517, its general poverty and a devastating plague in 1619, the Hebron Jewish community grew. Throughout the Turkish period (1517-1917), groups of Jews from other parts of the Land of Israel, and the Diaspora, moved to Hebron from time to time, joining the existing community, and the city became a rabbinic center of note. In 1775, the Hebron Jewish community was rocked by a blood libel, in which Jews were falsely accused of murdering the son of a local sheikh. The community -- which was largely sustained by donations from abroad -- was made to pay a crushing fine, which further worsened its already shaky economic situation. Despite its poverty, the community managed, in 1807, to purchase a 5-dunam plot

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-- upon which the city's wholesale market stands today -- and after several years the sale was recognized by the Hebron Waqf. In 1811, 800 dunams of land were acquired to expand the cemetery. In 1817, the Jewish community numbered approximately 500, and by 1838, it had grown to 700, despite a pogrom which took place in 1834, during Mohammed Ali's rebellion against the Ottomans (1831-1840). In 1870, a wealthy Turkish Jew, Haim Yisrael Romano, moved to Hebron and purchased a plot of land upon which his family built a large residence and guest house, which came to be called Beit Romano. The building later housed a synagogue and served as a yeshiva, before it was seized by the Turks. During the Mandatory period, the building served the British administration as a police station, remand center, and court house. In 1893, the building later known as Beit Hadassah was built by the Hebron Jewish community as a clinic, and a second floor was added in 1909. The American Zionist Hadassah organization contributed the salaries of the clinic's medical staff, who served both the city's Jewish and Arab populations. During World War I, before the British occupation, the Jewish community suffered greatly under the wartime Turkish administration. Young men were forcibly conscripted into the Turkish army, overseas financial assistance was cut off, and the community was threatened by hunger and disease. However, with the establishment of the British administration in 1918, the community, reduced to 430 people, began to recover. In 1925, Rabbi Mordechai Epstein established a new yeshiva, and by 1929, the population had risen to 700 again. On August 23, 1929, local Arabs devastated the Jewish community by perpetrating a vicious, largescale, organized, pogrom. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica: "The assault was well planned and its aim was well defined: the elimination of the Jewish settlement of Hebron. The rioters did not spare women, children, or the aged; the British gave passive assent. Sixty-seven were killed, 60 wounded, the community was destroyed, synagogues razed, and Torah scrolls burned." A total of 59 of the 67 victims were buried in a common grave in the Jewish cemetery (including 23 who had been murdered in one house alone, and then dismembered), and the surviving Jews fled to Jerusalem. (During the violence, Haj Issa el-Kourdieh -- a local Arab who lived in a house in the Jewish Quarter -- sheltered 33 Jews in his basement and protected them from the rioting mob.) However, in 1931, 31 Jewish families returned to Hebron and re-established the community. This effort was short-lived, and in April 1936, fearing another massacre, the British authorities evacuated the community. Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and the invasion by Arab armies, Hebron was captured and occupied by the Jordanian Arab Legion. During the Jordanian occupation, which lasted until 1967, Jews were not permitted to live in the city, nor -- despite the Armistice Agreement -- to visit or pray at the Jewish holy sites in the city. Additionally, the Jordanian authorities and local residents undertook a systematic campaign to eliminate any evidence of the Jewish presence in the city. They razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue.

III. HEBRON SINCE 1967 A. The Re-established Jewish community Israel returned to Hebron in 1967. The old Jewish Quarter had been destroyed and the cemetery was devastated. Since 1968, the re-established Jewish community in Hebron itself has been linked to the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebron.html (4 of 8)2/11/2004 13:40:01

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nearby community of Kiryat Arba. On April 4, 1968, a group of Jews registered at the Park Hotel in the city. The next day they announced that they had come to re- establish Hebron's Jewish community. The actions sparked a nationwide debate and drew support from across the political spectrum. After an initial period of deliberation, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol's Labor-led government decided to temporarily move the group into a near-by IDF compound, while a new community -- to be called Kiryat Arba -- was built adjacent to Hebron. The first 105 housing units were ready in the autumn of 1972. Today, Kiryat Arba has approximately 6,000 residents. Its built-up area comprises some 6,000 dunams, and is located about 750 meters from the Tomb at its nearest point. Kiryat Arba has its own elected local council, schools, religious and community institutions, clinics, and industrial/commercial zone. It draws its water from mains coming from the Etzion Bloc and the Herodion area to the north. About half of its residents work in Jerusalemand its environs; 30% are employed in local education, health, and administrative services, and the remaining 20% are employed in local tourism, industry, and commerce. The Jewish community in Hebron itself was re-established permanently in April 1979, when a group of Jews from Kiryat Arba moved into Beit Hadassah (see page 2 above). Following a deadly terrorist attack in May 1980 in which six Jews returning from prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs were murdered, and 20 wounded (see Annex I below), Prime Minister Menachem Begin's Likud-led government agreed to refurbish Beit Hadassah, and to permit Jews to move into the adjacent Beit Chason and Beit Schneerson, in the old Jewish Quarter. An additional floor was built on Beit Hadassah, and 11 families moved in during 1986. Since 1980, other Jewish properties and buildings in Hebron have been refurbished and rebuilt. Today the Hebron Jewish community comprises 19 families living in buildings adjacent to the Avraham Avinu courtyard (see page 2 above), the area also houses two kindergartens, the municipal committee offices, and a guesthouse; seven families living in mobile homes at Tel Rumeida; twelve families living in Beit Hadassah; six families living in Beit Schneerson; one family living in Beit Kastel; six families live in Beit Chason; Beit Romano, home to the Shavei Hevron yeshiva, is currently being refurbished. Local administration and services for the Hebron Jewish community are provided by the Hebron Municipal Committee, which was established by the Defense and Interior Ministries, and whose functions are similar to those of Israel's regular local councils. The Ministry of Housing and Construction has established the "Association for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron," to carry out projects in the city. The Association is funded both through the state budget and by private contributions. It deals with general development of, and for, the Jewish community. In addition to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Tel Rumeida, the Jewish cemetery, and the historical residences mentioned above, other Jewish sites in Hebron include: 1) the Tomb of Ruth and Jesse (King David's father) which is located on a hillside overlooking the cemetery; 2) the site of the Terebinths of Mamre ("Alonei Mamre") from Genesis 18:1, where God appeared to Abraham, which is located about 400 meters from the Glass Junction (Herodian, Roman, and Byzantine remains mark the site today); 3) King David's Pool (also known as the Sultan's Pool), which is located about 200 meters south of the road to the entrance of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which Jews hold to be the pool referred to in II Samuel 4:12, 4) the Tomb of Abner, Saul and David's general, which is located near the Tomb, and 5) the Tomb of Othniel Ben Kenaz, the first Judge of Israel (Judges 3:9-11). B. Security, and Hebron and the Peace Process According to the Oslo accords, the IDF has sole responsibility for the security of the Jewish http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebron.html (5 of 8)2/11/2004 13:40:01

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community of Hebron. However, it is the Israel Police which is responsible for investigating instances of possible violations of the law by Hebron's Jewish residents. Providing security for Hebron's Jewish residents is a particular challenge since Hebron's is the only Jewish community in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza which is situated directly in the midst of a city with a large Arab population. Moreover, the community is not concentrated in a single area or bloc, but is, rather, comprised of dispersed and separated sites. Terrorists could thus threaten one individual site, or isolate one site from the others by creating pressure on the roads (traffic jams, etc.) and thus impede the arrival of Israel security forces should one site be attacked, or could attack the roads joining the sites. Additionally, some of the sites are situated lower than the surrounding areas, and thus face clear threats. Responsibility for security at the Tomb of the Patriarchs -- in accordance with the recommendations of the committee which investigated the massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers and the wounding of 125 by Kiryat Arba resident Baruch Goldstein on 25.02.94 -- is shared by the IDF (outside the Tomb) and a special Israel Police/Border Police unit (inside). Following the massacre and the publication of the committee's findings, it was decided to establish new prayer procedures which would enable both communities to exercise their religious rights as fully and freely as possible and would provide for the complete separation of Jewish and Muslim worshippers. In this context, a schedule of the religious holidays of both Jews and Muslims was established in which each community was allocated 10 days annually in which it would have exclusive access to the Tomb. Following the signing of the Interim Agreement on September 28, 1995, authority over most civilian matters concerning Hebron's Arab residents was transferred from the IDF Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority and/or the (Arab) Municipality of Hebron. Those services which remained the responsibility of the Civil Administration will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and the Municipality following the IDF redeployment in Hebron. The Interim Agreement provides for the stationing of a Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), whose sole function is to monitor and report on events. On October 10, 1996, Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a joint letter requesting the Norwegian government to extend the operation of the current TIPH, composed of 30 Norwegian citizens.

ANNEX I: TERRORIST ATTACKS AND VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN HEBRON SINCE 1929 (The following list is intended to provide a representative -- not exhaustive -- summary of terrorist attacks and violent incidents which have occurred in Hebron since 1929.)

23.08.29

67 Jews (including women, children, and the elderly) were murdered, and 60 injured in a vicious pogrom which had been well-planned by Arab rioters. In the course of the pogrom, women were raped, homes and synagogues were plundered and burned, and Torah scrolls were desecrated and burned.

09.10.68

A 17 year-old Arab youth threw a grenade at Jews praying on the steps of the Tomb's main gate. 47 Jews, including an eight month-old baby, were injured.

05.11.68

A Jewish man and his son, an elderly Arab man, and three Arab children were injured by an explosive charge near the Tomb.

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Hebron

29.12.68

Terrorists attack a security post near the Tomb. One terrorist was killed; the others fled. No Israeli soldiers were injured.

07.08.76

Two Jews were wounded when terrorists shot at a tour bus in the city.

03.10.76

On the eve of Yom Kippur, a mob of Arab youths burst into the Tomb and desecrated several Torah scrolls. Three soldiers fired in the air in an attempt to prevent their entry. 61 rioters were arrested in the Tomb.

02.05.80

Arab terrorists ambushed a group of Jews returning from the Tomb to Beit Hadassah. Six Jews were murdered and 20 wounded.

21.05.80

A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli vehicle in Hebron. A Jewish woman was wounded.

02.06.80

11 Arabs, including four schoolchildren, were injured when a boobytrapped grenade exploded in the Hebron market.

16.12.80

An Arab resident of Hebron was wounded by a bomb at Glass Junction in Hebron.

10.02.81

A Jewish resident of Kiryat Arba was stabbed and wounded in the Hebron casbah.

07.07.83

Beit Romano Yeshiva student Aharon Gross was attacked and stabbed by three Arab youths in the market area. He later died of his wounds.

25.07.83

Jewish terrorists opened fire at the Islamic College in Hebron. Three students were murdered and approximately 30 wounded.

10.08.85

A Jewish resident of Kiryat Arba was stabbed and wounded in the Hebron casbah.

25.04.86

A 16-year old Jewish youth was stabbed and lightly wounded in the casbah.

06.06.86

A Jewish resident of Kiryat Arba was stabbed and wounded in the casbah.

14.09.86

A young Arab woman, the daughter of a local mukhtar, stabbed a soldier at the entrance to the Tomb. She was shot and killed.

16.10.86

A Jewish resident of Kiryat Arba was stabbed in the city.

25.10.92

Three Arab terrorists shot at soldiers guarding the Tomb's generator. One reserve soldier was murdered; two were wounded.

28.05.93

Yeshiva student Erez Shmuel was stabbed to death approximately 500 meters from from the Tomb, while on his way to Friday evening prayers at the Tomb.

06.12.93

Mordechai Lapid and his son Shalom were shot to death near Glass Junction in Hebron. Hamas claimed responsibility.

25.02.94

Kiryat Arba resident Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshippers inside the Tomb, murdering 29 and wounding 125.

07.07.94

Sarit Prigal (17) was shot to death in a drive-by shooting, when terrorists opened fire from a passing car near the entrance to Kiryat Arba.

19.03.95

Nahum Hoss (31) of Hebron, and Yehuda Partus (34) of Kiryat Arba, were murdered by shots fired at their bus from a terrorist ambush near Glass Junction in Hebron. Six others were injured.

Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry

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Hebron

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Hebron 2000 map

Hebron 2000

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Hebron 2000 map

Source: Foundation for Middle East Peace

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The Hebron Massacre of 1929

The Hebron Massacre of 1929 by Shira Schoenberg

For some time, the 800 Jews in Hebron lived in peace with their tens of thousands of Arab neighbors. But on the night of August 23, 1929, the tension simmering within this cauldron of nationalities bubbled over, and for 3 days, Hebron turned into a city of terror and murder. By the time the massacres ended, 67 Jews lay dead and the survivors were relocated to Jerusalem, leaving Hebron barren of Jews for the first time in hundreds of years. The summer of 1929 was one of unrest in Palestine. Jewish-Arab tensions were spurred on by the agitation of the mufti in Jerusalem. Just one day prior to the start of the Hebron massacre, three Jews and three Arabs were killed in Jerusalem when fighting broke out after a Muslim prayer service on the Temple Mount. Arabs spread false rumors throughout their communities, saying that Jews were carrying out "wholesale killings of Arabs." Meanwhile, Jewish immigrants were arriving in Palestine in increasing numbers, further exacerbating the Jewish-Arab conflict. Hebron had, until this time, been outwardly peaceful, although tension hid below the surface. The Sephardi Jewish community in Hebron had lived quietly with its Arab neighbors for centuries. The Sephardi Jews (Jews who were originally from Spain, North Africa and Arab countries) spoke Arabic and had a cultural connection to their Arab neighbors. In the mid1800s, Ashkenazi (native European) Jews started moving to Hebron and, in 1925, the Slobodka Yeshiva, officially the Yeshiva of Hevron, Knesset Yisrael-Slobodka, was opened. Yeshiva students lived separately from the

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The Hebron Massacre of 1929

Sephardi community, and from the Arab population. Due to this isolation, the Arabs viewed them with suspicion and hatred, and identified them as Zionist immigrants. Despite the general suspicion, however, one yeshiva student, Dov Cohen, still recalled being on "very good" terms with the Arab neighbors. He remembered yeshiva boys taking long walks late at night on the outskirts of the city, and not feeling afraid, even though only one British policeman guarded the entire city. On Friday, August 23, 1929, that tranquility was lost. Arab youths started throwing rocks at the yeshiva students. That afternoon, one student, Shmuel Rosenholtz, went to the yeshiva alone. Arab rioters later broke in and killed him, and that was only the beginning. Friday night, Rabbi Ya’acov Slonim’s son invited any fearful Jews to stay in his house. The rabbi was highly regarded in the community, and he had a gun. Many Jews took him up on this offer, and many Jews were eventually murdered there. As early as 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, Arabs began to gather en masse. They came in mobs, armed with clubs, knives and axes. While the women and children threw stones, the men ransacked Jewish houses and destroyed Jewish property. With only a single police officer in Hebron, the Arabs entered Jewish courtyards with no opposition. Rabbi Slonim, who had tried to shelter the Jewish population, was approached by the rioters and offered a deal. If all the Ashkenazi yeshiva students were given over to the Arabs, the rioters would spare the lives of the Sephardi community. Rabbi Slonim refused to turn over the students and was killed on the spot. In the end, 12 Sephardi Jews and 55 Ashkenazi Jews were murdered. A few Arabs did try to help the Jews. Nineteen Arab families saved dozens, maybe even hundreds of Jews. Zmira Mani wrote about an Arab named Abu Id Zaitoun who brought his brother and son to rescue her and her family. The Arab family protected the Manis with their swords, hid them in a cellar along with other Jews who they had saved, and found a policeman to escort them safely to the police station at Beit Romano. The police station turned into a shelter for the Jews that morning of August 24. It also became a synagogue as the Orthodox Jews gathered there and said their morning prayers. As they finished praying, they began to hear noises outside the building. Thousands of Arabs descended from

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The Hebron Massacre of 1929

Har Hebron, shouting "Kill the Jews!" in Arabic. They even tried to break down the doors of the station. The Jews were besieged in Beit Romano for three days. Each night, ten men were allowed to leave to attend a funeral in Hebron’s ancient Jewish cemetery for the murdered Jews of the day. When the massacre finally ended, the surviving Jews were forced to leave their home city and resettled in Jerusalem. Some Jewish families tried to move back to Hebron, but were removed by the British authorities in 1936 at the start of the Arab revolt. In 1948, the War of Independence granted Israel statehood, but further cut the Jews off from Hebron, a city that was captured by King Abdullah's Arab Legion and ultimately annexed to Jordan. When Jews finally gained control of the city in 1967, a small number of massacre survivors again tried to reclaim their old houses. Then defense minister Moshe Dayan supposedly told the survivors that if they returned, they would be arrested, and that they should be patient while the government worked out a solution to get their houses back. Years later, settlers moved to parts of Hebron without the permission of the government, but for those massacre survivors still seeking their original homes, that solution never came.

Sources: Arutz Sheva, Interview with Rabbi Dov Cohen, (August 1, 1999). Ben-David, Calev, “To live and die in Hebron,” The Jerusalem Post, (July 23, 1999). See also: Hebron.

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The Hebron Protocol

The Hebron Protocol

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Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron (1/17/97) Note for the Record Agreed Minute Letter to be provided by US Secretary of State Christopher to Benjamin Netanyahu at the time of signing of the Hebron Protocol

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Kiryat Arba

Kiryat Arba

Kiryat Arba is a suburb of Hebron, five minutes from the Cave of Machpela and the heart of the city. Established in 1971, Kiryat Arba was the first renewed Jewish community in Judea and Samaria. Today, Kiryat Arba is home to more than 6,000 Jews. The town has educational institutions from prenursery school through post-High school, modern medical facilities, shopping centers, a bank and post office.

Source: Hebron.

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Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron Table of Contents

Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron





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Agreement on Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron (5/9/96) Agreement on Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron (1/30/97) Hebron History of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron Mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Temporary International Presence in Hebron (1/30/97) Structure and Organization of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron

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Muslim Sheikh Speaks on Islam and Jerusalem

A Muslim Scholar Speaks on Islam & Jerusalem by Shaykh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi

For a Jew or a Muslim, religious or secular, thinking of Jerusalem means to feel reason and sentiment mingled together. So, as a Muslim scholar and a man of religion, it is today worthwhile for me to try to determine whether, from an Islamic point of view, there is some well-grounded theological reason that makes recognizing Jerusalem both as an Islamic holy place and as the capital of the State of Israel impossible. The idea of Islam as a factor that prevents Arabs from recognizing any sovereign right of Jews over the Land of Israel or Jerusalem is quite recent and can by no means be found in Islamic classical sources. Both Qur'an and Torah indicate quite clearly that the link between the Jews and the Land of Israel does not depend on any kind of colonization project but directly on the will of God Almighty. In particular, both Jewish and Islamic Scriptures state specifically that God through His chosen servant Moses decided to free the offspring of Jacob from slavery in Egypt and to make them the inheritors of the Promised Land. The Qur'an cites the exact words with which Moses ordered the Israelites to conquer the Land: "And (remember) when Moses said to his people: ‘O my people, call in remembrance the favour of God unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Muslimscholar.html (1 of 4)2/11/2004 13:40:44

Muslim Sheikh Speaks on Islam and Jerusalem

the people. O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin'". (Qur'an, Sura 5:22-23, "The Table") The Holy Qur'an also quite openly refers to the reinstatement of the Children of Israel in the Land before the Last Judgment, where it says "And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.' And when the last warning will come to pass, We will gather you together in a mingled crowd." (Qur'an, Sura 17:104, "The Night Journey") As concerns Jerusalem, the most common argument against Islamic acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the Holy City is that, since it is a holy place for Muslims, its being ruled by non-Muslims would be a betrayal of Islam. The designation of Jerusalem as an Islamic holy place depends on alMi'raj, the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad to heaven, which began from the Foundation Stone on the Temple Mount. But while remembering this, we must admit that there is no real link between al-Mi'raj and sovereign rights over Jerusalem, since when al-Mi'raj took place the city was not under Islamic but under alternate Byzantine or Sassanid administration. Moreover, the Qur'an expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Muslims. We read: "They would not follow thy direction of prayer (qibla), nor art thou to follow their direction of prayer; nor indeed will they follow each other's direction of prayer...." (Qur'an, Sura 2:145, "The Cow") All Qur'anic commentators explain that "thy qibla" is obviously the Kaba of Mecca, while "their qibla" refers to the Temple Mount Area in Jerusalem. Some Muslim exegetes also quote the Book of Daniel as proof of this (Daniel 6:10). Thus, as no one wishes to deny Muslims complete sovereignty over Mecca, from an Islamic point of view there is no sound theological reason to deny the Jews the same right over Jerusalem. As to Jewish-Muslim relationships, if we reflect on the level of interreligious dialogue in past centuries, we must frankly admit that in this respect we have been moving backwards. From a theological point of view, dialogue between Jews and Muslims is easier than, say, dialogue http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Muslimscholar.html (2 of 4)2/11/2004 13:40:44

Muslim Sheikh Speaks on Islam and Jerusalem

between Jews and Chrisitians. Indeed, dialogue between Jews and Muslims was much more extensive in the past. Ibn Gabirol (Avicembro), Maimonides, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) were not isolated intellectuals but part of an ongoing intercommunication and shared well of knowledge. One can blame the current separation on the political situation, but that does not free intellectuals and men of religion of their responsibility. Today, looking toward the future, we must again create the same kind of intellectual atmosphere, until it is common for Islamic theologians to read Buber and Levinas, and for Jewish scholars to study the works of Sha'rawi and Ashmawi. We can understand the common features in the development of Kabbalah and Tasawwuf, or study the mutual influence of Jewish Halakhah and Islamic Sharia. Jewish intellectuals, for their part, must be ready to understand that a new attitude is emerging among some Islamic thinkers. Many of us are now ready to admit that hostility for Israel has been a great mistake, perhaps the worst mistake Muslims have made in the last 50 years. For those Muslim leaders who live in democratic countries, this declaration is not so dangerous. Even in the more oppressed countries, there is a certain part of the educated population that does not blindly accept the local view. It is very important for us to verify that we are not alone in this activity; we must know that there is someone else who appreciates and shares our goals. The times are ready for Jews and Muslims to recognize each other once again as a branch of the tree of monotheism, as brothers descended from the same father - Abraham, the forerunner of faith in the Living God. The more we discover our common roots, the more we can hope for a common future of peace and prosperity. Shaykh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi is Secretary General of the Italian Muslim Association and Muslim Chair of the Islam-Israel Fellowship of the Root & Branch Association (www.rb.org.il). He was educated in Rome and in Cairo, where he received his "ijaza" (authorization to teach Islam) from Shaykh Ismail al-Khalwati and Sheikh Husayn al-Khalwati, and holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Sciences by decree of former Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz.

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Muslim Sheikh Speaks on Islam and Jerusalem

Source: OLAM.org

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Absentees' Property (Compensation) Law, 5733-1973

Absentees' Property (Compensation) Law, 5733-1973 (July 1, 1973) The draft law was presented to the Knesset on 9 January 1973. It became a law on 1 July 1973. The purpose of the law is to pay compensation to every resident of Israel, whether of East Jerusalem or elsewhere in the country. Compensation will be paid in respect only of land, wherever situated, in the State of Israel. The law is concerned with providing a solution for one important part of the larger problem of the Arab refugees. The following is from a Ministry of Justice Press Release, August 12, 1973.

The Main Provisions of the Law 1. The persons entitled to compensation are all those who were Israel residents on 1 July 1973, or became residents thereafter, and prior to the property becoming vested in the Custodian of Absentees' Property were a. the owners of property, including their heirs, or b. the tenants only of urban property, including spouses living with them at the last mentioned date, or c. the lessees of property, or d. the owners of any easement in property. 2. The criteria for determining the value of property have been adopted from the Palestine Conciliation Commission of 1961. Accordingly, in respect of urban property the base figure is the net annual value on 29

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Absentees' Property (Compensation) Law, 5733-1973

November 1947 as last determined before that date for the purpose of urban property tax. In order to allow for the fact that net annual value is always set at a very low figure, an addition of a sum ranging from 30% to 60% (depending on the date of the last pre-1947 assessment) of the net annual value will be made. Since the original values were given in pounds sterling, the resulting figure will be multiplied by 175 to yield its equivalent in Israel lira of today. As regards agricultural property, the present-day value will be determined according to its classification for the purpose of rural property tax; the fourteen or so categories with their value per dunam are specified in the Schedule to the Law. All sums properly paid by the Custodian of Absentees' Property on behalf of an owner will be deducted from the compensation. Tenants of urban property will generally receive 15% of the value of the property as ascertained for the purpose of compensation. A lessee will receive such compensation as is found to be the value of his rights in the property. 3. Claims for compensation must be submitted before 30 June 1976 in the manner and form to be prescribed by regulation. If a person becomes an Israel resident after 1 July 1973, the claim may be submitted within two years thereafter, if that goes beyond 30 June 1976. An advisory committee is to be set up, under the chairmanship of a Magistrate, to advise the Officer in Charge as to the rights of claimants, the determination of the annual value and the amount of compensation. In the event of any dispute over the decision of the Officer in Charge as to the right to compensation or the amount thereof, either the claimant or the Attorney General have a right of recourse to the District Court within six months after the Officer has given notice of his decision. These legal proceedings are exempt from court fees. The fees of lawyers dealing with compensation claims are expressly restricted by the Law to certain maximum percentages; payments made in excess of the permitted rates may be recovered in civil proceedings and any person receiving any excess is liable to be fined five times the amount of the excess and, if a lawyer, may be open to professional disciplinary proceedings. 4. After compensation has been finally determined, the first IL 10,000 thereof will be paid in cash not later than 1 July 1975 or within six days after final determination whichever is the later, and the balance will be

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Absentees' Property (Compensation) Law, 5733-1973

discharged by the issue of government bonds within six months after final determination. The bonds will be registered in the name of the recipient with the Bank of Israel, but, from 1 April 1980, will be negotiable as if they were bearer bonds. They will be repayable in 15 equal annual instalments, with accruing interest at the rate of 4% on 1 October of each year commencing in 1975, although the Minister of Finance, with the approval of the Knesset Finance Committee, may direct earlier payment if that is required for rehabilitating or rehousing the claimant. Capital and interest will be linked with the cost-of-living index. Bonds will be exempt from stamp duty. The foregoing applies to owners of property. Payment for compensation to other claimants is generally to be made before 1 July 1975 or within six months after final settlement of the claim, whichever is the later. 5. The Ministers of Finance and Justice are responsible for implementing the Law. The Minister of Justice may make regulations regarding procedures for making claims and the manner of dealing with them.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Architecture of Jerusalem Table of Contents

Architecture of Jerusalem

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Jerusalem: Architecture in the British Mandate Period Jerusalem: Architecture in the Late Ottoman Period Jerusalem Architecture Since 1948 Jerusalem: Christian Architecture through the Ages Mishkenot Sha'ananim

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Armon Hanatziv Promenade

Armon Hanatziv Promenade

The Armon Hanatziv Promenade overlooks most of Jerusalem and offers a beautiful view of the city. The promenade is one of the more successful projects initiated by former mayor Teddy Kollek under the auspices of the Jerusalem Foundation. Armon Hanatziv means the Commissioner's Palace. The name is a bygone of another era, when the British High Commissioner's house, was down the road. The house was later used, after 1948, as the headquarters for UN observers. The promenade, which is about two-thirds of a mile long (one kilometer), is at the southern end of the city, viewing northwards, you can see on the left, (westwards), new Jewish Jerusalem; straight ahead, the Old City, Mount Zion, and the three valleys which surround ancient Jerusalem, i.e. Tyroppean, Hinnom and Kidron. Beyond the Old City to the north is French Hill and Mount Scopus. To the East you can see the Mount of Olives, with it's three hallmark towers on the crest, and beyond it the Judean wilderness. Way off the right is "the hill of evil counsel," or the governor's mansion, now a UN enclave. At the very end of the promenade there is a lovely little restaurant, called the Taverna, which is accessible from Naomi Street in the Abu Tor neighborhood. To get the promenade by car, find the Jerusalem train station, across the road from Liberty Bell Garden. Drive around the bend in front of the http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/Armon.html (1 of 2)2/11/2004 13:40:50

Armon Hanatziv Promenade

station to the traffic light at the intersection. Make a right onto Hebron Road and continue southwards through several lights, about four blocks. Turn left off Hebron road at the sign for the Haas Promenade (East Talpiot) and continue straight down to the end ot the street to the parking lot.

Source: Copyright © 2000 Gems in Israel All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.

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Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel

Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel (July 30, 1980)

1. Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.

2. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court.

3. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.

a. The Government shall provide for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants by allocation of special funds, including a special annual grant to the Municipality of Jerusalem (Capital City Grant) with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Knesset. b. Jerusalem shall be given special priority in the activities of the authorities of the State so as to further its development in economic and other matters. c. The Government shall set up a special body or special

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Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel

bodies for the implementation of this section.

MENAHEM BEGIN Prime Minister YITZCHAK NAVON President of the State

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Eating in Jerusalem Table of Contents

Eating in Jerusalem

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The Byzantine Period The Early Muslim Period The First Temple Period The Mameluke Period The Medieval Crusader Period

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Ein Kerem

Ein Kerem

Archeological excavations in the early 1940's uncovered remains of a settlement from the Middle Bronze Period (third millenium BCE), pottery from the first century BCE, and pagan cult statues from Roman times. Ancient tradition, dating back from Church of Saint John the Baptist Theodosius (530 CE) identifies Ein Kerem as the birth place of John the Baptist, and with the location of the visit paid to Elizabeth, John's mother by her cousin Mary, Jesus' mother (Luke 1:39-80). The village's historical fame rests primamrily on this fact. A church stood there from Byzantine times and was visited by the author of the Kalendarium Hierosolymitanum. The crusaders also occupied the village and built a large church, soon destroyed in the eleventh century. The Russian Abbot Daniel wrote (110607) of two churches in Ein Kerem. The Franciscans established their first church in 1621, establishing a more permanent settlement in 1674. Medieval traveleers, whose pilgramage route usually followed the triangle Jerusalem-Ein Kerem-Bethlehem, wrote of the Church of Saint John and the Church of the Visitation. The Franciscans remained the only foreigners in Ein Kerem until the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1860, the sisters of Our Lady of Zion settled in the village, to be followed by the nuns of the Russian Orthodox

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Ein Kerem

Church in 1871, the White Father in 1882, the Greek Orthodox Church in 1894, and the Rosary Sisters in 1911. During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 the inhabitants of the village, mostly Arab, fled and were replaced by immigrants from Asian countries. In 1949, Rahel Chagall Windows Yannait Ben Tzvi established the Ein Kerem Agricultural School, moving it from its previous location in Jerusalem. In 1964, many aritsts and academics settled in the village. Today, Ein Kerem is most well known for its prestigious Hadassah Hospital, established in 1961, which also is home to the famous twelve Marc Chagall stained glass windows.

Sources: "Ein Kerem." Encyclopedia Judaica; Hadassah Medical Organization Photo of Chagall windows courtesy Trivia One Photo of Church courtesy Biblical Resources Study Center

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Jerusalem History Table of Contents

Jerusalem History

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Ammunition Hill Antiochus Strategos: The Sack of Jerusalem Archaeology of Jerusalem The Bar-Kokhba Revolt The Battle For Gush Etzion The Battle For Jerusalem in the War of Independence The Bombing of the King David Hotel British Mark Capture of Jerusalem from Turks The Destruction of the Second Temple Eshkol's Address to the Spiritual Leaders of All Communities in Jerusalem Four Periods in the History of Jerusalem The Great Revolt Hezekiah’s Tunnel Jerusalem in the Bible Jerusalem in the First Temple Period Jerusalem - History {Virtual Israel Experience) Jordanian Annexation of the West Bank Jordan’s Desecration of Jerusalem King David and Jerusalem: Myth and Reality Mayors of Jerusalem Muftis of Jerusalem Solomon's Stables Statement at the Western Wall by Defence Minister Dayan Supreme Moslem Council Recognized Jewish Connection to

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Jerusalem History Table of Contents



Temple Mount The Temple Mount - the Haram-esh-Sharif

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Israel Strengthens Jerusalem

Israel Strengthens Jerusalem On June 21, 1998, the Israeli Cabinet adopted a plan to strengthen Jerusalem and ensure its unity while countering the PLO's effort to divide the city. The decision is entirely consistent with the peace process and in no way violates the Oslo Accords, changes the status quo of the West Bank or the status of the Palestinians in the city or territories. This plan is dedicated entirely to maintaining the demographic balance in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews to ensure a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital, improve municipal services within the Jerusalem metropolitan area and boost the city's economy. Nothing in this decision will adversely affect the Arab population of Jerusalem, which is rapidly increasing while the Jewish population is declining. More specifically, the plan aims to: ●

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Strengthen Jerusalem and ensure its unity and counter PLO efforts to divide it. Improve municipal services within the Jerusalem metropolitan area. Boost the city's economy. Promote high-tech business and academic studies in Jerusalem. Help reduce the gap between housing prices in Jerusalem and other cities. Improve the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train system. Create a comprehensive public transportation system in the city. Plan additional improvements in the Jerusalem infrastructure. Maintain a demographic balance between Arabs and Jews. Improve the quality of life for Jerusalem residents, Arabs and Jews alike. Expands Jerusalem's municipal jurisdiction only to the west

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Israel Strengthens Jerusalem

covering Jewish towns within pre-1967 Israel. The plan does not: ● ● ● ●

Impact the peace process Violate Oslo's ban on changing the status of the West Bank Involve annexation of West Bank land Change the status of any settlements or political status of the area

Under this plan, Israel will not be violating any agreements with the Palestinians. Oslo does not restrict Israel's activities within Jerusalem and nothing in this decision will adversely affect the lives of the city's Arab population.

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Jerusalem Table of Contents

Virtual Israel Experience Take the Tour

Jerusalem

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When you drive up the main road from the airport and Tel Aviv into the mountains, you might expect some major landmark to welcome you to Jerusalem, but it's not like crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to enter San Francisco, spying the Empire State Building on the way to Manhattan, riding down the Champs-Elysées into the heart of Paris or taking the vaporetto across a canal into Venice. The entrance to Jerusalem is more abrupt; one minute you're on the highway and the next you've been transported to a different world. Almost immediately you find yourself on narrow streets with low-level buildings, many dating back decades. The sidewalks are typically filled with people scurrying about, hasidim in their distinctive garb, students dressed like students anywhere, soldiers with guns casually slung over one soldier and a knapsack over the other. The unparalleled mixture of the ancient and modern, the secular and religious is apparent at once. You feel that something is different and, intellectually and spiritually, you know this is a place unlike any other. One of its many unique qualities is that Jerusalem almost completely shuts down on Shabbat. This is a time of incredible quiet, like nothing you can

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Jerusalem Table of Contents

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experience in any other major city, when the observant Jews head for the Western Wall, synagogues and family gatherings, and less observant Jews enjoy their one day off from work, spend the day with their families, relax and take in the breathtaking beauty of the city. A handful of restaurants stay open and people still roam the streets, but most activity ends mid-day Friday and doesn't pick up again until after dark on Saturday. Jerusalem is the largest city in Israel and the nation's capital. It is a place where you can have fun, but it is more spiritual than spirited. Of course, sometimes the spirit moves people a little too far. In fact, psychologists have identified something they call the "Jerusalem syndrome" to describe people who become so intoxicated with the city they act irrationally, sometimes to the point of believing themselves to be the messiah. For purposes of this tour, we’ve divided the city into four sections. The first offers an overview of the city's long and rich history. This includes a discussion of the current controversy over the future of the city. The next stop is the Old City, roughly 220 acres surrounded by walls built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. This is the heart of the city and has both political and religious significance. The Old City is divided into quarters — Jewish, Armenian, Muslim and Christian. The holiest place for Jews is the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter. Two of Islam’s most important shrines, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa Mosque are in the Muslim Quarter on the Temple Mount. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter is revered by Christians as the site of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here you can imagine life centuries ago and even walk on original 2,000-year-old stones. The neighborhoods beyond the Old City walls include Yemin Moshe, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls, which is identifiable by its distinctive – and unusable – windmill; Mount Scopus, home of the Hebrew University; the Mount of Olives, the site of several important Christian shrines and the cemetery where Jews have buried their dead for centuries and Mea She’arim, an island in time where ultra-Orthodox Jews dress and behave in traditional ways and strictly observe Jewish law. The "new" city is the more modern part of Jerusalem that was mostly built after Jordan occupied the Old City and the rest of the eastern half of the city following the 1948 war. This is where Israel has established most of its

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Jerusalem Table of Contents

government offices, including the Knesset and the magnificent new Supreme Court building. It is also where you can find the world-renowned Hadassah Hospital, with its famous Chagall windows; Mt. Herzl, the final resting place of most of Israel’s leaders and Yad Vashem, Israel museum and memorial to the Holocaust. Most visitors stay in this part of the city, which also has beautiful parks and a lively downtown with clubs, shops and restaurants. For believers, this is the place where the call to God is a local one. For everyone else, it is a place of great beauty and history that is unlike anywhere else on earth.



History



The Old City



Beyond the Old City Walls



The "New" City

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Jerusalem--An Introduction

Jerusalem — An Introduction

By Mitchell Bard

Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. The Western Wall in the Old City — the last remaining wall of the ancient Jewish Temple, the holiest site in Judaism — is the object of Jewish veneration and the focus of Jewish prayer. Three times a day for thousands of years Jews have prayed "To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy," and have repeated the Psalmist's oath: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning." By contrast, Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history. Jerusalem never served as a provincial capital under Muslim rule nor was it ever a Muslim cultural center. For Jews, the entire city is sacred, but Muslims revere a site — the Dome of the Rock — not the city. "To a Muslim," observed British writer Christopher Sykes, "there is a profound difference between Jerusalem and Mecca or Medina. The latter are holy places containing holy sites." Besides the Dome of the Rock, he noted, Jerusalem has no major Islamic significance. Meanwhile, Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for nearly two millennia. They have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840's (map of Jerusalem in 1912). Today, the total population of Jerusalem is approximately 662,000. The Jewish population in areas formerly controlled by Jordan exceeds 160,000, outnumbering Palestinians in "Arab" http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Jerusalem.html (1 of 8)2/11/2004 13:41:13

Jerusalem--An Introduction

Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM'S POPULATION

Year

Jews

Muslims

Christians

Total

1844

7,120

5,000

3,390

15,510

1876

12,000

7,560

5,470

25,030

1896

28,112

8,560

8,748

45,420

1922

33,971

13,411

4,699

52,081

1931

51,222

19,894

19,335

90,451

1948

100,000

40,000

25,000

165,000

1967

195,700

54,963

12,646

263,309

1987

340,000

121,000

14,000

475,000

1990

378,200

131,800

14,400

524,400

2000

530,400

204,100

14,700

758,300

A City Divided When the United Nations took up the Palestine question in 1947, it recommended that all of Jerusalem be internationalized. The Vatican and many predominantly Catholic delegations pushed for this status, but a key reason for the UN decision was the Soviet Bloc's desire to embarrass Transjordan's King Abdullah and his British patrons. The Jewish Agency, after much soul-searching, agreed to accept internationalization in the hope that in the short-run it would protect the city from bloodshed and the new state from conflict. Since the partition resolution called for a referendum on the city's status after 10 years, and Jews comprised a substantial majority, the expectation was that the city would later be incorporated into Israel. The Arab states were as bitterly opposed to the internationalization of Jerusalem as they were to the rest of the partition plan. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, subsequently, declared that Israel would no longer accept the internationalization of Jerusalem. In May 1948, Jordan invaded and occupied east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews—whose families had lived in the city for centuries—into exile. For the next 19 years, the city was split, with Israel establishing its capital in western Jerusalem and Jordan occupying the eastern section, which included the Old City and most religious shrines. The Arab refusal to accept partition "played a role in the juridical definition of Jerusalem's status," http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Jerusalem.html (2 of 8)2/11/2004 13:41:13

Jerusalem--An Introduction

according to former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek. After the Arab states' rejection of UN Resolution 181 and, on December 11, 1948, UN Resolution 194, establishing the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared that Israel would no longer accept the internationalization of Jerusalem. In 1950, Jordan annexed all the territory it occupied west of the Jordan River, including east Jerusalem. The other Arab countries denied formal recognition of the Jordanian move, and the Arab League considered expelling Jordan from membership. Eventually, a compromise was worked out by which the other Arab governments agreed to view all the West Bank and east Jerusalem as held "in trust" by Jordan for the Palestinians. From 1948-67, the city was divided between Israel and Jordan. Israel made western Jerusalem its capital; Jordan occupied the eastern section. Because Jordan — like all the Arab states at the time — maintained a state of war with Israel, the city became, in essence, two armed camps, replete with concrete walls and bunkers, barbed-wire fences, minefields and other military fortifications. In violation of the 1949 Armistice Agreement, Jordan denied Israelis access to the Temple Wall and to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews have been burying their dead for 2,500 years. Jordan actually went further and desecrated Jewish holy places. King Hussein permitted the construction of a road to the Intercontinental Hotel across the Mount of Olives cemetery. Hundreds of Jewish graves were destroyed by a highway that could have easily been built elsewhere. The gravestones, honoring the memory of rabbis and sages, were used by the engineer corps of the Jordanian Arab Legion as pavement and latrines in army camps (inscriptions on the stones were still visible when Israel liberated the city). The ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City was ravaged, 58 Jerusalem synagogues — some centuries old-were destroyed or ruined, others were turned into stables and chicken coops. Slum dwellings were built abutting the Western Wall. Jews were not the only ones who found their freedom impeded. Under Jordanian rule, Israeli Christians were subjected to various restrictions, with only limited numbers allowed to visit the Old City and Bethlehem at Christmas and Easter. Jordan also passed laws imposing strict government control on Christian schools, including restrictions on the opening of new schools; state controls over school finances and appointment of teachers and requirements that the Koran be taught. Christian religious and charitable institutions were also barred from purchasing real estate in Jerusalem. Because of these repressive policies, many Christians emigrated from Jerusalem, leading their numbers to dwindle from 25,000 in 1949 to less than 13,000 in June 1967.

Jerusalem is Unified In 1967, Jordan ignored Israeli pleas to stay out of the Six-Day War and attacked the western part of the city. The Jordanians were routed by Israeli forces and driven out of east Jerusalem, allowing the city's unity to be restored. Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s mayor for 28 years, called the reunification of the city "the practical realization of the Zionist movement's goals." As had been the case under previous Islamic Defense Minister Moshe Dayan (c), Chief of rulers, King Hussein had neglected Jerusalem. Staff Yitzhak Rabin (r), and Jerusalem The scope of his disregard became clear when Commander Uzi Narkiss (GPO Photo) Israel discovered that much of the city lacked even the most basic municipal services-a steady water supply, plumbing and electricity. As a result of reunification, these and other badly http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Jerusalem.html (3 of 8)2/11/2004 13:41:13

Jerusalem--An Introduction

needed municipal services were extended to Arab homes and businesses in east Jerusalem.

Freedom of Religion After the war, Israel abolished all the discriminatory laws promulgated by Jordan and adopted its own tough standard for safeguarding access to religious shrines. "Whoever does anything that is likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the various religions to the places sacred to them," Israeli law stipulates, is "liable to imprisonment for a term of five years." Israel also entrusted administration of the holy places to their respective religious authorities. Thus, for example, the Muslim Waqf has responsibility for the mosques on the Temple Mount. Since 1967, hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians — many from Arab countries that remain in a state of war with Israel — have come to Jerusalem to see their holy places. Arab leaders are free to visit Jerusalem to pray if they wish to, just as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat did at the Al-Aksa mosque. According to Islam, the prophet Muhammad was miraculously transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and it was from there that he made his ascent to heaven. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque, both built in the seventh century, made definitive the identification of Jerusalem as the "Remote Place" that is mentioned in the Koran, and thus a holy place after Mecca and Medina. Muslim rights on the Temple Mount, the site of the two mosques, have not been infringed. Although it is the holiest site in Judaism, Israel has left the Temple Mount under the control of Muslim religious authorities. For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus lived, preached, died, and was resurrected. While it is the heavenly rather than the earthly Jerusalem that is emphasized by the Church, places mentioned in the New Testament as the sites of his ministry and passion have drawn pilgrims and devoted worshipers for centuries. Among these sites is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of the Last Supper, and the Via Dolorosa with the fourteen stations of the Cross. The rights of the various Christian churches to custody of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem were defined in the course of the nineteenth century, when Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire. Known as the "status quo arrangement for the Christian holy places in Jerusalem," these rights remained in force during the period of the British Mandate and are still upheld today in Israel. Along with religious freedom, Palestinian